The Province of British Columbia has started rolling out their first tickets for the Intersection Safety Camera (ISC)  Program announced last year. That means  7,353 motorists have received letters indicating that they are being fined for speeding through one of the 15 of 35 red light intersections equipped with special cameras capturing speeding drivers.

As Dan Fumano in the Vancouver Sun observes that compares with “police throughout B.C. issued a monthly average of 16,414 speed-related violation tickets in 2018, the most recent year for which data was available).”  Managing speed by automation is an accepted trend and works well in Europe, where steep fines keep drivers to posted speeds.

Of course those receiving speeding tickets will be outraged, and there will be hand ringing going on as lawyers test the legalities of the process. But look at the statistics the Province has produced~60 percent of all crashes happen at intersections. At the locations where the cameras have been located an average of 10,500 vehicles annually travel 30 km/h an hour over the posted speed limit in those intersections. Each of the chosen intersections  have an average of 84 crashes a year. That’s one crash every four days, or seven crashes a month per intersection.

The intersections for cameras were specifically chosen by the type of crash, the severity, and frequency. There’s been lots of notice about the cameras  in media, and online on the ICBC and Province’s Public Safety and Solicitor General’s website. The links even contain maps showing which cameras are activated for speed.

The statistics are sobering. In the summer of 2019 the highest speeding ticket issued was for a vehicle travelling 174 km/hr in an 80 km/h zone. In the fall of 2019 the highest speeding ticket given was for a vehicle travelling 154 km/hr in an 80 km/hr zone. In both cases this speed is close to double that of the posted speed. This occurred despite the fact that each intersection in the camera program has large signs posted indicating that speed cameras are in operation.

Currently Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec are the other provinces with automated speed enforcement, and Quebec has statistics that show their program works. In Quebec there has been a 13.3 km/h reduction in average speed at camera intersections, and a 15 to 42 percent reduction in crashes at “mobile and fixed speed” locations.

The speeding ticket goes to the owner of the vehicle, not the driver at the time of operation, and those ignoring the ticket will be personally served with the ticket at their home address. And this is no cash grab~the Province is moving all the net revenue from the program to municipalities that have policing budgets, with the stipulation that the funds “support community safety and address local policing priorities”.

This is all good news and just makes sense in a Province that is providing universal health care and is also underwriting  vehicle insurance. Enforcing posted speeds will  lessen deaths/serious injuries and prevent high speed crashes. It also makes these intersections safer for more vulnerable road users, cyclists and pedestrians who are often the collateral damage of horrific crashes. A survey undertaken in 2018  by pollster Mario Canseco showed that 70 percent of British Columbians were in favour of speed enforcement cameras.

This is a baby step in a more comprehensive approach to enforce speed limits across municipalities and highway systems to alleviate deaths and serious injuries. The Safe Systems Approach which has been adopted in many European countries has also resulted in lowering carbon emissions. I have written about the work in the Netherlands which has  lowered daytime speeds   to obtain a “carbon credit” to build 75,000 units of housing.

The Province’s Intersection Safety Program  is significant in outlining the need for cultural and social change . Drivers need to perceive a vehicle journey as a drive to a destination, instead of a manifestation of speed to achieve quick timeliness. It is time to rewrite the speed hangover from the vehicular street dominance of the last century to create safer streets (and communities) for all users.


Photos: VancouverIsAwesome &



  1. In a few short years all new vehicles will have fully autonomous capabilities that won’t let you get a ticket. Even if you’re behind the wheel, the car won’t let you speed, run red lights, drive drunk, or cause accidents, and insurance costs will be negligible compared to non-autonomous vehicles. Can’t wait.

    1. I am really not sure that the vehicle fleet will contain a sufficiently large enough percentage of Autonomous Vehicles to make a significant difference in a “few short years” – forecasts have indicated that it will be more like a few short decades before we will see the safety effects of AVs in any appreciable extent.

      In the meantime we must continue to do the things that an evidence base says makes a difference. Enforcement is one of these things, but we must ensure that the use of enforcement is done in a way that has a maximum deterrence effect and is not just geared to just maximising revenue gathering.

      All in all though – well done!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *