Decision to install Red Lights Cameras in #Guelph must be data driven

On Friday Jan 25th, City staff released a supplemental memo specific to council’s deliberations on Red Light Cameras (RLC). This memo (see below) provides answers to many of council’s questions posed during the January Committee of the Whole meeting.

This is excellent support from our traffic professionals and reiterates staff’s earlier position that the existing data on the effectiveness of RLC’s is mixed (at best) and in many cases positive reports cannot be substantiated. Further, it’s important to note that with RLC’s the driver of the vehicle is not necessarily the one receiving the ticket. Rather, the registered vehicle owner is. Often times resulting in unintended consequences for car owners who allow others to drive their car.

Based on these reasons, I believe this file is best left in staff’s hands until a time when the data and technology warrants it. Otherwise, as seen below, council runs the risk of reprioritizing staff’s work plan away from traffic and collision mitigation measures that are actually proven to be working.

Council votes on this file Monday, Jan 28th.

DEPARTMENT
SUBJECT
January 24, 2019
Mayor & Council
Kealy Dedman, General Manager/City Engineer IDE, Engineering and Transportation Services
Response to Questions Regarding Red Light Camera Program Report from Committee of the Whole meeting January 14, 2019


The Red Light Camera Program Review report was put before Committee of the Whole on Monday, January 14, 2019 as report IDE-2019-13. The report provided information on the process and potential for the City of Guelph to implement a Red Light Camera program. This memo responds to questions from members of IDE Committee of the Whole and includes an alternative recommendation for Council consideration to provide clarity to Staff.


1) The City of Toronto and the Region of Waterloo cite a 60% reduction in turning movement collisions caused by disobeying the traffic control. Does the City of Guelph have statistics for turning movement collisions at traffic signals, where the traffic signal has been disobeyed (i.e. a red light running violation)?

There were 1,358 turning movement collisions in the City over the five-year period between 2013-2017. Of these 1,358 collisions a total of 53 (4%) were caused by a driver disobeying the traffic control. The majority of turning movement collisions occur at midblock locations, where a driver failed to yield right-of-way.

2) Please provide further information on the ‘halo effect’, which has been mentioned by other municipalities who operate red light cameras systems.

The City of London is still in the process of collecting data for a future Council report and therefore has no comments at this time on the ‘halo effect’. The City of Hamilton is noticing a Citywide decrease in collisions related to a number of traffic safety measures, but no specific numbers are statistics are available at this time.

3) Other municipalities, such as the City of Toronto, cite a reduction in the total amount of serious injuries that were a result of a collision. Can staff further breakdown the collision analysis in terms of fatal collisions, serious injury, injury and property damage only (PDO), where a traffic signal has been disobeyed?

At this time, staff are unable to complete a collision analysis with this level of detail.

4) The City of London talks about an initial increase in rear end collisions, which you’ve identified, but after a while that number started to reduce because of drivers becoming accustom to seeing the red light cameras and being much more cautious going into intersections. Are staff able to get statistics on this from the City of London or anywhere else to verify?

Staff was not able to find any concrete information or statistics through either independent search or directly from other municipalities to verify this statement.

5) Although there are statistics on the potential benefits and drawbacks of a red light camera system in the report, there are no statistics on the programs and initiatives that staff are currently working on or would like to implement. Do we have these statistics from our programs here in Guelph or is staff able to get these from other municipalities?

The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) provided the following statistics regarding right angle collision mitigation measures:
– 48% reduction with installation of larger signal heads (all 30cm lenses). This practice was started in the City of Guelph in 2012.
– 42% reduction with installation of additional signal head (often on the far left of intersections). This practice was also started in the City of Guelph in 2012.

– 25-38% reduction with the coordination of signals. (Staff are updating the signal coordination plans for Gordon Street, Edinburgh Road and Woodlawn Road as part of the 2019 Workplan).

6) Is there a possibility to purchase one red light camera, but sign multiple intersections, without a red light camera, warning of ‘Red Light Camera’s May be Used’?

No, it was decided by the RLC working group that the program is to be transparent. In fact, all the participating municipalities actually highlight the RLC locations on their website.In light of the limited potential of any deterrent effect, as well as the potential negative impact on the integrity of the city’s ‘real’ red light camera program, staff do not recommend the installation of ‘mock’ red-light camera sites.

7) The report shows a tremendous emphasis on damage to property, but the threat to humans or animals is not as significant. Could staff please comment on this and provide the potential benefits for both pedestrians and cyclists on the installation of a red light camera system.

Statistics indicate a Red Light Camera program has proven to reduce right angle collisions by 25%. This includes right angle collisions with pedestrians and cyclists at signalized locations.

8) Could you please provide further data analysis on the right angle versus rear end collisions, because it is my understanding that we are being asked to weigh each.

While the majority of collisions occurring in the City of Guelph are rear end (3,060 over the past 5 years), a right angle collision (1,215 over the past 5 years) is considered to be more severe.

9) It is understood that one of the drawbacks of a red light camera system is an increase in rear end collisions. Through Councilor Downer, it was stated that over time those rear end collisions tend to drop off as people drive more cautiously and slowly through intersections. Could you please corroborate this information?

Staff was not able to find any concrete information or statistics, through independent search or from other municipalities, to verify this statement.

10) The math in the financials part of the report is wrong; staff need to come back to Council with correct number on cost and revenue. The way it is currently displayed in the report, the program is not presented as being revenue neutral.

The numbers in the report are correct. For a RLC program to be fully funded through the fine revenue collected for RLC violations, an average of approximately 0.56 violations per camera per day (assuming four locations total) would be required. Since the number of red light violations is difficult to predict, especi ally in the early years of operation, the program needs to be viewed as a safety initiative as revenues are not a certainty.  Based on four red light cameras being installed, the minimum cost to pay for the system would be an annual operating cost of $213,000 (based on an approximate of $52,000 per camera), plus communication costs.

With a maximum of $260 (from the $325 ticket, $60 is a victim surcharge retained by the Province and $5 is assigned for court costs) being returned to the municipality (an agreement must be reach with the Courts department first), all operating costs from the program could be funded with an average of 0.56 violations per day, if the maximum fine was returned to the City. Other municipalities have indicated in some cases the fine is reduced.

11) Please look at the City of Hamilton’s model that has all extra revenue pooled into a traffic safety fund for road safety initiatives.

The City of Hamilton has an agreement with the local court system that the ticket revenue ($260 from each offence) is returned to the municipality and placed into a set account/fund. Should the City of Guelph approve the Red Light Camera program, staff will report back with further information on this process.

12) Could you please explain the difference, and costs, in either entering the agreement with the other municipalities or going out to find our own vendor and running the program without entering the mentioned agreements?

Exact costs on ‘sole sourcing’ the red light camera are not available at this time.

Should the City of Guelph wish to proceed with the red light camera program without entering into the agreement shared with the other eight municipalities, the following items would need to be considered.
– The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) would need to approve Guelph to run a red light camera program independently. – Significant increase in staff time to operate the program independently, as opposed to being part of a large group of municipalities

Based on the above and in discussion with other municipalities, it is recommended that the City of Guelph join the other participating municipalities in contracting for a red light camera system.

13) Should Council approve the red light camera program for the City of Guelph, what will be lost in both staffs Workplan and the budget, to ensure the programs implementation?

Much of the Traffic Division staff Workplan involves working on time sensitive projects, such as development related traffic reviews, traffic control plans and construction reviews, assisting the Adult School Crossing Guard program and inspections of ongoing capital programs. It is anticipated that staff’s ability to complete service request reviews (i.e. neighbourhood speeding, on-street parking concerns etc.) would be impacted the most with turnaround time be extended from approximately 4-6 weeks to 8-10 weeks.

Kealy Dedman, P.Eng. MPA
General Manager/City Engineer
Engineering and Transportation Services
Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise
Location: City Hall, 1 Carden Street
T 519.822.1260 x 2248
F 519.822.6194
E kealy.dedman@guelph.ca
C Scott Stewart, DCAO, IDE
Tara Baker, GM/City Treasurer, Finance
Jeff DeRuyter, Chief of Police, City of Guelph