As more and more commuters to Toronto use Hwy. 5 as an alternative to the QEW the route, also known as Dundas Street, is becoming increasingly dangerous.

Nick Servos, supervisor of roads operation and maintenance for the Region of Halton, said the Brant Street-Dundas Street intersection was chosen for Burlington’s first red-light camera because a study showed there had been a high number of so-called T-bone (right-angle) collisions there.

Regional Chairman Gary Carr is a big booster of the red-light camera program.

“The fact that there’s at least one collision every week in Halton caused by a red-light runner is not acceptable to us,” Carr said. “We want to save lives and make our roads a safer place to be. Running red lights is not only dangerous, it’s also illegal.”

The cameras take photos of red-light runners 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but only operate when a vehicle enters the intersection after the light has turned red.

The owner of a car caught running a red light must pay a $325 fine. However, the person does not lose demerit points since it cannot be proved exactly who was driving the car.

from left to right -- Halton Chief of Police Gary Crowell; Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr and Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring launching Halton Region's Red Light Camera Program in Burlington at Brant Street and Dundas Street.

Const. Les Fulop, community support officer for the Burlington district of the Halton Regional Police Service, said a lot of people also forget that an amber light means stop too and the same fine applies for running an amber. The only exception is if the light changes to amber after the driver has entered the intersection. In that case, they are to proceed with caution.

Red-light cameras are controversial. After installing some in Hamilton, officials discovered that overall collisions at traffic signals decreased by 32 per cent. Where cameras were located, T-bone collisions fell by a whopping 63 per cent.

However, there was a increase in rear-end collisions. Officials attributed this rise to drivers slamming on the brakes for amber lights.

Meanwhile, Const. Fulop said he believes the Road Watch program, introduced by Halton Police several years ago, continues to be a big help in reducing traffic accidents.

Citizens can report the erratic driving of other motorists on city streets by filling out a form on which they mark down the licence plate number, location and time. The mission of the program is to deal with aggressive driving and to ask people to take responsibility for their driving behavior and attitude.

Fulop said he receives 40 to 50 reports a month. In 2011 the total was 499, down from 544 in 2010.

“Some people call Communications right away if they see a serious situation,” he said. “We try to have an officer respond. If no one is available and the situation is not serious, they forward their complaint to me and I send out a letter.”

The name of the complainant does not appear in the letter.

“If anybody has two or three complaints against them in a year, we have an officer go and speak to them in person,” he said.

But receiving a letter is not an indication of an offence and it does not represent the laying of a charge.

“No fines or penalties are associated with a letter,” he said.

Since the program was introduced, the police service has added using a cellphone while driving as a complaint. But Fulop said not many of the 499 complaints received last year were for cellphone use.

“A lot of people are speeding through school zones,” he said.

The police service also has a Bus Watch program in which school bus drivers and crossing guards can report drivers who pass their buses while the lights are flashing on the bus. Fulop said those complaints go directly to the police service’s District Responses Unit and an officer is sent out to talk directly to the person.

Further information is available at www.haltonroadwatch.ca

Written by: Dennis Gibbons

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

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