An automated speed enforcement (ASE) system is a combination of a camera and speed-measuring equipment used to detect and capture images of speeding vehicles. Images are then reviewed by provincial offence officers who issue tickets to the offending vehicle owner. Fines are the only permitted penalty to be administered using ASE.
Increase road safety, reduce speeding and raise public awareness about the need to slow down and obey posted speed limits.
In December 2019, Ontario Regulation 398/19 was published under the Highway Traffic Act, permitting the permanent or temporary installation of ASE systems on or adjacent to any highway. According to the Highway Traffic Act, these systems can only be installed in a school zone or community safety zone (CSZ) with a speed limit of less than 80 km/h.
In July 2020, 50 ASE systems installed city-wide on local, collector and arterial roads in CSZs near schools in Toronto officially began issuing tickets. Signage was posted nearby to warn drivers of an approaching CSZ with an ASE system in use. Locations for each system were selected using a two-stage process developed based on best practices and provincial guidelines. The first stage involved initial screening and prioritization based on collision and speed data. The second stage involved a manual review of each site’s suitability, which considered the surrounding geographical environment and traffic infrastructure, among other factors.
The permanent installation of these systems was preceded by a four-month pilot project which ran from September to December 2018 and a public education campaign which ran from January 20 to March 31, 2020. The pilot was used to better understand the processes and requirements involved with ASE; the education campaign was used to inform residents of the installation and remind them of the dangers of speeding. No tickets were issued by the city during these periods. However, as part of the education campaign, warning letters were issued in lieu of tickets. A total of 25,000 warning letters were issued during the campaign.
The ASE program is designed to work in tandem with other Vision Zero strategies. As of November 2021, enforcement is underway at the fourth round of locations.
Data and lessons learned
Preliminary findings released by the City demonstrate a positive impact on driver behaviour where speed cameras were placed. According to an ongoing evaluation study conducted by the Hospital for Sick Children, the number of vehicles travelling in excess of the speed limit decreased at the first round of locations during the July to November 2020 ticketing period, compared to the period when there were no ASE devices prior to 2019. Some of the early results indicate:
- The percentage of speeding vehicles reduced from the period prior to the installation of the devices. For example, in 40 km/h zones, the percentage of speeding vehicles dropped from 49 per cent to 28 per cent. In 30 km/h zones, the percentage of speeding vehicles dropped from 55 per cent to 44 per cent.
- Vehicle traffic travelling in excess of the posted speed limit reduced from 51 per cent during the warning period to 36 per cent during the first ticketing period (July to November 2020).
- The average excess speed was reduced from 18 km/h to 6 km/h in 40 km/h zones, and from 12 km/h to 9 km/h in 30 km/h zones.
During the first year of enforcement from July 2020 to July 2021, a total of 227,322 tickets were issued by ASE devices. Additional data and lessons learned will be provided as findings from the initiative become available.
Automated speed enforcement pilot projects have also been implemented in the provinces of Québec and Saskatchewan. Following an initial pilot project in 2009, the Province of Québec began a second photo radar device implementation phase in 2015. The cities of Montréal, Laval, Gatineau, and the regions of Longueuil and Québec participated in a municipal co-operation pilot project to evaluate the types of devices most suitable for a municipal context. The Ministry of Transportation of Québec (2018) found photo radar systems resulted in a decrease in average vehicle speeds and the number of collisions involving bodily injury. A follow-up evaluation found a 29 per cent reduction in the number of speeding vehicles following the installation of photo radar devices in a 50 km/h zone in Montréal. Additionally, collision data from sites equipped with photo radar devices in Montréal indicated reductions ranging from 33 per cent to 79 per cent in collisions involving bodily injury since 2005.
In December 2014, the Government of Saskatchewan introduced the Photo Speed Enforcement Pilot Program in select high-speed locations and school zones. The Traffic Safety Program Evaluation of Saskatchewan Government Insurance (2018) found that the pilot positively impacted speeding behaviour at both high-speed and school-zone locations. The pilot was also found to have a positive impact on the severity and frequency of collisions. Photo speed enforcement was associated with reducing 35 casualty collisions (28 from high-speed locations and seven from school zones), resulting in an estimated 50 fewer injuries (40 from high-speed locations and 10 from school zones).
ASE systems in Toronto will rotate locations every three to four months to enforce speed limits and raise awareness about the risks related to speeding in other parts of the city.