Is Photo Radar Coming Back to Ontario?

Photo radar in Ontario may become a reality, again, as the province prepares to introduce legislation that would give municipalities the means and technology to catch speeders in community safety zones and school zones.

It’s expected that the legislation will be introduced before the end of the year. Photo radar is already used in other jurisdictions in Canada, including parts of Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec.

Photo radar in community safety zones and school zones

Unlike the last time photo radar was used on highways in the province in the mid-1990s, this time it will be limited to particular municipal roads, specifically areas designated as community safety zones or school zones.

A community safety zone is usually a roadway near daycare centres, playgrounds, parks, hospitals, or senior citizen residences. A school zone refers to a section of a street near a school or near a crosswalk leading to a school, and generally has a reduced speed limit during certain hours. Fines for traffic tickets in these areas, like speeding, are typically higher.

In addition to photo radar, the legislation will also allow municipalities to create zones with reduced speed limits, and make it easier, administratively, for cities to install red-light cameras at intersections.

"We have seen too many injuries and deaths caused by drivers who speed and endanger people’s lives," said Premier Kathleen Wynne in a statement. "Our intent is to give municipalities more tools to help keep people safe on our roads."

How will a photo radar ticket affect your car insurance?

While the details have not yet been confirmed, chances are a photo radar ticket for speeding will be treated similarly to a red light camera ticket. In general, these tickets do not affect your car insurance rate.

With both types of tickets, typically a photo is taken of the vehicle’s licence plate and the ticket is then mailed to the registered owner of the car. But since there’s usually no way of knowing who was behind the wheel at the time of the infraction, the ticket is not tied to a particular person’s driving record. As a result, photo radar tickets and red light camera tickets are generally not factored into your car insurance premium. That said, these tickets cannot be ignored. The onus is on the owner of the vehicle to deal with the ticket, even though they may not have been driving when the infraction occurred.

Making Ontario’s roads safer

This latest road safety initiative, is just one among many that the province has introduced in the last two years.

In September of 2015, new traffic laws came into effect that require drivers to:

  • Give cyclists a one metre safety cushion, where possible, when passing.
  • Slow down and move over for tow trucks, in the same way you would for police or other first responders when stopped at the side of the road with their flashers on.

On January 1, 2016 another new Ontario traffic law came into effect that requires drivers and cyclists to stop and yield the whole roadway at pedestrian crossovers, school crossings, as well as any location where a school crossing guard is present.

And finally, on October 2, 2016 penalties for driving while drug impaired now mirror those for driving while drunk.

Take care on the road, and take care of your auto insurance premiums

For everyone’s safety, take care in how you drive, no matter where you are. And, if you do get a ticket, most not only come with a fine, but may also affect your auto insurance upon renewal (especially if you already have a ticket or two on your record). Make sure you’re not overpaying for your coverage, and compare quotes. It could help you pay less for car insurance because on average, shoppers save $700 after shopping their car insurance rates.