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Mobile photo radar: Effective speed control or cash grab?

  • Temporary sign on Highway 40 near the Chateau Vaudreuil that indicates area is monitored by photo radar.
    Temporary sign on Highway 40 near the Chateau Vaudreuil that indicates area is monitored by photo radar.
    Photo credit: Navneet Pall, Gazette file photo

Are you a regular user of the Ile aux Tourtes Bridge? Have you been caught by the mobile photo radar truck in the eastbound lanes, just before you hit the bridge?

You’re not alone. Thousands of commuters have been caught. That’s not much consolation, though. It’s not clear whether misery likes company when then it comes in the form of a $170 fine. But that’s another debate.

The debate I want to have is whether mobile photo radar traps are an effective traffic control device or just a big, old cash grab?

If you are one of the people who have received a ticket in the mail, you might argue it’s a cash grab. But, be honest. Since receiving a fine have you not slowed down as your approach the construction zone just west of the bridge?

When the work on the Ile Thomas span just a few metres west of the Ile aux Tourtes started last fall, the speed limit in the construction zone was dropped to 80 kilometres an hour. Traffic moving through the area in off-peak hours was zooming by regularly at 100 km/hr or more. I travel this route every day. If there was no traffic, the reduced speed limits were not being respected.

Then, the white van showed up. This unidentified vehicle parked on the westbound side of the entrance to the construction zone changed everything. As motorist saw the telltale white flashing light go off as a speeding car was snagged by the radar, word spread. The signs informing drivers that the area was being monitored by photo radar were obvious, too. But it was when the tickets started showing up in mail boxes, the speeding stopped.

It appeared clear: If you want a rule respected, it has to be enforced.

And for this reason, I would conclude the photo radar trap is an effective means to enforce the reduced speed limit.

But if you have been slapped with a fine, you could also argue that yes, it’s effective. But do the fines have to be so high?

That too is easy. You see the signs. You know the photo radar trap is there. Simply don’t speed through this area. It’s as easy or as difficult as creating a new habit.

I have requested from Transport Quebec the number of tickets that have been issued at this site since the construction began. Officials have promised an answer. I will keep you posted.

The only figures that are readily available now are the number of tickets issued from  Aug. 31, 2012, to Nov. 30, 2012 – the period when preliminary work on the site was being done. During that three-month period 1,862 tickets were issued. It will be interesting to see how many others got dinged.

In the meantime, please feel free to weigh in with your thoughts.

Brenda O’Farrell

15 comments

  1. The only issue that I have with this mobile radar, is that they recently moved the speed limit signs for about .5km down the highway. It is now placed almost immedietly after the speed limit is posted at 80km/hr heading east. The average driver drives 10-15km over the speed limit, and 50m is not enough space to slow down to make sure you dont get busted in a construction zone.

    Another thing I dont like is that there is a police officer waiting at the other end taking speed as well… a family member recently got caught by the mobile radar and the police officer while visiting from out of town.

    It sucks for the people who got busted, but the laws have been in effect about the high price of speeding in a construction zone for some time now. Just be happy that you did not loose any points or your license.

  2. I personally think it is necessary to get drivers to slow down in construction zones when workers are present as no one respects construction speed limits in Quebec…
    . All over Montreal, you see people not even slow down, and this can put at risk the construction workers who are onsite; be it a loss of control, an object on the road being propelled towards them or other. Taking 30 seconds longer to get where you need to go will not make much of a difference to you, but it could save someone’s life…

  3. How can it be a cash grab… when they have a sign indicating photo radar up ahead………..!

    I guess people need to blame someone or something other than themselves……..!

  4. Would love to see an article on who gets the money . Municipality, city, province, – how is it allocated -police, courts,
    Is the expected (set as a target) revenue budgeted or is it part of s discretionary fund ?

  5. By Richard Hall

    There is no English warning of photo radar and this is the Trans Canada highway. Visitors are not thereby warned if they have never seen the icon sign before. My understanding is that the gouvernment takes all fines into general revenue then allocates money as they see fit.

    • i guess the giant sign of a camera that says RADAR is not enough to tell them that there is photo radar?

      Last i checked Photo and Radar is the same word in both languages.

  6. My issue is when they put the white van on weekends when there are no workers present. The purpose of the lower speed limit is to make the area safer for workers on the bridge. If you travel, through NY state, Vernont, New HGampshire and Ontario, you see these type pf work zone warnings all the time. The only difference, is those places tell you, fines are doubled if you are caught speeding in the work zone, when workers are present.
    And yes, I am a bit bitter, I was nailed on a Saturday @11:30am, not a worker on site or a truck in the area…….doing 103km /hr…and what’s this $170.00………mine was $240.00! !

    • Paul, I recently got nailed for the same thing: 105 km/hr in a construction zone along Hwy 20, where the speed limit was 80 km/hr. I was driving along, probably going about 110 along with everyone else. Of course the signs warning of the photo radar and the 80km/hr speed limit were only about 100 meters from the device itself, and there were no construction workers present at 8 PM on a Saturday, but my fine is still $180 plus “contributions” (French for “gouging” I assume) for a total of $263. Unbelievable. But I’ll chalk it up to experience and add “photo radar” to my list of Things That Suck in Quebec. Anyway, I was wondering what you did about your ticket, and what effect it had on your insurance. I am tempted to fight it but I have also gotten advice to just pay the fine since it does not result in demerits. If you could let me know what happened in your situation I would appreciate it.

  7. The speed trap works allright and I do not mind paying the speeding fine when I was doing 106 kmph in a (modified) speed zone of 80 kmph – but, there has to be some logic to it also. I got a ticket (with double fines) on a Sunday afternoon when there was no traffic and no workers present.

    In Ontario, the signs clearly state that fines are doubled when workers present. There is no such logic in Quebec.

    For the law here, there can only be one of the possible two reasons – (i) we are different from the ROC, or (ii) it is simply a cash grab.

  8. We need more Photo radar, speed limits on the highways around Montreal need to be reduced and reduced electronically during rush hours and they should be enforced. We should also reduce speeds to a maximum of 40 km downtown and on residential streets and to 30 km on even narrower roadways and with parking on both sides like on St Dominique in the plateau. The slower people drive, the safer, more environmentally friendly and hey, it saves everybody money.

  9. If you speed you deserve to pay.
    Just be thankful you did not kill or injure someone while speeding.
    Catching people who break a law is not a “cash grab” it’s just immediate and rough justice.

  10. By Richard Meades

    I’ve never been ticked there or anywhere else for that matter in at least 25 years. Get your noses out of your I-phones or whatever other gadget that’s distracting your from steering that 4,000 lbs of metal safely down the highway. You’re most probably too stupid to do both. I have absolutely no pity for you. I would encourage the cops to have at least 50 unmarked cruisers to nail you and all the other idiots for the dangerous diving I witness on the roads.

  11. By Pincourt

    In Europe you would not even get a warning sign that a photo-radar is ahead. They are just part of life in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, … There is a network of fixed photo-radars and mobile sites on all types of streets (highways, city roads, residential streets, …)
    It is very rare to see police doing manual speed measurements. I guess having photo-radars gives police more manpower for accidents, break ins, other crimes, investigations, …

    • In Europe, the speed limits on motorways are much higher, 120-130 in most countries and no speed limit in Germany. When there are construction zones they slow you down gradually (i.e. first 120 sign, then couple of meters away 100, then 90 then 70, etc). The speed trap in Vaudreuil is right after the 80 sign and long before the construction ever starts. If this was legitimately for safety it would be right before actual construction and way after the posted sign.

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