In an attempt to keep our roads safe, the province of Ontario passed legislation in 2004 that allows municipalities to install red light cameras. These cameras photograph vehicles that don’t stop at a red light when turning or passing through an intersection. These photographs are used to ticket you for reckless driving. A 2018 report states that 90,000 tickets were issued to drivers throughout the city of Toronto relating to images caught by a red light camera. In recent days, City Council is moving forward with the expansion of the Red Light Camera Program, with installation work ongoing. Let’s examine red light cameras; how they work, how much a fine costs, and where to find them. We also discuss whether red light camera tickets affect your insurance.
The Red Light Camera (RLC) Program
A red light camera, or (RLC), is an automation system that detects and captures images of vehicles entering an intersection, in spite of the traffic signal indicating red. You can find RLCs in municipalities throughout the province. The RLC program’s focus is to deter the running of red lights that can potentially cause accidents and serious injuries. If your vehicle enters the intersection after the light turns red (crossing the stop line), the RLC will snap a photo of your vehicle and its licence plate. Next, a police offer reviews the photos to verify that your vehicle actually did run the light. Lastly, the Ministry of Transportation issues you a ticket through the mail. Tickets are sent to the owner of the vehicle, even though you may not have been the one driving at the time of the violation.
DYK: Traffic data shows that the program is a great success in reducing these accidents? In Toronto, the number of collisions causing death, injury or property damage are reduced by more than 60 percent.
Where are the red light cameras located?
With over 300 red light cameras currently in use across the province, these cities are currently using them:
FYI: It is interesting to note that over half of the red light cameras currently in use can be found in and around the GTA. To view current locations in Toronto, click here.
Who receives the ticket?
With installations at high volume intersections, RLC tickets are given if the system detects a vehicle for running a red light. If after closer inspection by an officer you are found to have indeed run the light, a ticket will be issued in the mail by the Ministry of Transportation to the owner of the vehicle (regardless of who was driving). It may take up to a month to receive it in the mail. As the owner of the vehicle, it is your responsibility to pay for the ticket, regardless of who was behind the wheel.
Important: If you enter an intersection when the light is yellow, you will not receive a ticket. Likewise, if you are already in the intersection waiting to make a left turn when the light turns red, you will not be given a ticket.
Fines for an RLC ticket
Running red lights and getting a ticket will cost you. A red light camera ticket fine is the same as a red light ticket: the cost is $325. Ontario red light camera tickets cost the same across the province.
Do red light camera tickets cost you demerit points in Ontario?
Unlike most traffic tickets in Ontario, there are no demerit points for a red light camera ticket in Ontario. However, you are still subject to the $325 fine. Red light camera tickets, much like photo radar tickets for speeding, are given to the vehicle owner, not the driver. Vehicle owners receive the ticket because the driver’s identity is not clear in red light camera photos.
RLC ticket payment options
When you receive your red light ticket in the mail, there will be instructions showing you how to pay for the ticket. In most cases, you’ll be able to pay the traffic ticket:
- In person
- By mail
Can I fight the ticket?
The short answer is, yes you can. Like any other ticket, you have the right to fight a RLC ticket. However, considering the potential danger of the infraction, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to overturn your traffic ticket. At best, most drivers may be able to reduce the fine amount, but results vary on a case-by-case basis. Be sure to take into account the time and effort of fighting the ticket. You may find that it’s not worth it, given you may only see a small reduction in the fine.
Does a red light camera ticket affect my insurance?
If you run a red light and are worried about it affecting your car insurance rates, don’t! Fortunately, there is no impact on your car insurance rates if you get a red light ticket. The infraction does not go on your driving record and there are no demerit points. Again, with no impact on your car insurance, it makes the need to fight one less necessary.
Where can I check if I have a RLC ticket?
Checking if you have been issued a ticket can be done online. To view the status of a red light ticket online, you can use the Provincial Offences Act online services portal to look up your ticket on the Ontario.ca website.
FYI: If you lose your RLC ticket, you can visit your local courthouse. They can look up any outstanding ticket in the system by entering your driver’s licence.
Best ways to prevent RLC tickets
While it may not show up on your driving record or cost you demerit points, no one wants to end up with a costly (and unnecessary) red light ticket. Here are a few ways to prevent this from happening:
- Use an app, like WAZE, to know where red light cameras are located in your city
- Be on the lookout for red light camera or red light warning signs as you approach intersections (like the ones below)
- Slow down and mind your speed when approaching intersections
- Ease off the gas pedal when approaching intersections
- Avoid entering an intersection once a traffic light turns yellow
- Only allow individuals you trust to use your vehicle
Installation of red light cameras at busy intersections are meant to help reduce the number of collisions or pedestrian injuries. The RLC program is designed to be a deterrent for those ignoring public safety by running red lights. At these busy intersections, the number of vehicle collisions and pedestrian injuries have seen a reduction of 40%. While RLC violations may not show up on your record or cost demerit points, you should not ignore them. Failing to pay your fines can result in you not being able to renew your driver’s licence or vehicle registration. Worst of all, by running a red light, you can cause a serious accident or put other’s lives at risk, including your own.
Do your part and obey the rules of the road to keep everyone safe!