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Photo radar and red light cameras

As Québec's road safety record had been steadily deteriorating since the beginning of the years 2000, the gouvernement du Québec decided, in 2005, to put forward a series of initiatives to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on the roads. Upon recommendations from the Table québécoise de la sécurité routière, new technologies were introduced to control speed and detect red light running.

In 2009, as part of a pilot project, Québec installed 15 photo radar devices and red light cameras* in the administrative regions of Montréal, Montérégie and Chaudière-Appalaches. One of the main objectives of this pilot project, also called "Phase 1", was to assess the impact of this technology on road users' compliance with speed limits and red lights in Québec and to determine the social acceptance of these devices.

It is worth noting that this type of photo radar and red light camera systems are used in over 70 jurisdictions worldwide. 

In June 2012, the permanent use of photo radar devices and red light cameras on the Québec road network was confirmed. Their use was extended to school and road construction zones. They are now part of Québec drivers' environment.

* The terms used in Québec legislation to designate these devices are "photo radar devices" and "red light camera systems".

Objective

The government's objective in implementing photo radar devices and red light cameras is to improve road users' safety and, by extension, the road safety record. This technology is intended to change drivers' behaviour in order to reduce the number of accidents and road victims. In concrete terms, it means preventing tragedies and reducing social costs to the benefit of the whole community.

Reducing the number of fatalities and injuries

Speeding and red light running are important factors in road accidents. In Québec, 37% of traffic fatalities are linked to speeding, and 25% of bodily injuries at intersections with traffic lights are due to red light running.

Changing drivers' behaviour

Stationary photo radar devices and red light cameras control traffic 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of the weather conditions. Their presence, which is always indicated in advance, directly impacts drivers' behaviour by changing their perception of the risk of being caught.

Impact of photo radar devices and red light cameras on the number of accidents

Between the 2005-2007 period (before the devices were installed) and the 2010-2012 period (when the devices were installed), the number of accidents (bodily injuries and property damage) was reduced by:• 59% where stationary photo radar devices were installed• 41% where red light cameras were installed• 26% where mobile photo radar devices were used For the same periods, Québec's road safety record shows a 23% decrease in the number of accidents (injuries and property damage) and a 16% decrease in accidents involving bodily injuries.All in all, the decrease in the number of accidents throughout Québec, regardless of the type of accident, was more significant in areas where the devices had been installed.

Where does the money raised by fines go?

Under the Act respecting the ministère des Transports, the fines and fees resulting from offences detected by photo radar devices and red light cameras are credited to the Fonds de la sécurité routière (highway safety fund). The sums are to be allocated only to initiatives or programs designed to improve road safety or assist road victims.

The installation and operation of photo radar devices and red light cameras was the first measure funded by the Fonds de la sécurité routière. An advisory committee composed of seven members of the Table québécoise de la sécurité routière, including at least one person representing passenger vehicle drivers, was set up; its role is to provide the Minister of Transport with recommendations on the use of the sums credited to the fund.

Privacy

The protection of personal information and information security is a government priority.

Data is transmitted in a fully secure electronic environment. Exchanges of information between devices, the Centre de traitement de la preuve or CTP (evidence processing centre), and the Bureau des infractions et amendes or BIA (office of offences and fines), which are under the jurisdiction of the ministère de la Justice du Québec, are managed by the government's computer network.

All data is encrypted to ensure confidentiality, data integrity, and sender authentication. Only police and BIA personnel may have access to the information.

In addition, the passengers inside the vehicle are not shown in the photographs, to respect privacy.

The documents, like all police files, are archived in a secure environment.

New deployment phase for photo radar devices and red light cameras (Phase 2)

The ministries, agencies and cities cooperating to install and operate photo radar devices and red light cameras in Québec have set the ground for a second deployment phase.

As of fall 2015, 36 new devices are scheduled to be installed gradually in the territory of the cities and regions identified, in addition to the 15 units already in operation.

Half of the new devices will be installed on public roads that serve municipalities and that are maintained by the ministère des Transports and monitored by Sûreté du Québec. The municipalities are located in the regions of Capitale Nationale, Chaudière-Appalaches, Montérégie, Montréal, Laval, Laurentides and Lanaudière.

The other half will be deployed in Québec's urban centres (including Québec, Ancienne-Lorette and Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures) and in the urban centres of Longueuil (including Longueuil, Boucherville, Brossard and Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville), as well as in Laval and Gatineau. Agreements regarding the Cities' participation in the projet pilote de cooperation municipal or PPCM (municipal cooperation pilot project) were signed by the Minister of Transport and the Cities in this regard in 2013.

The PPCM, which is scheduled for at least 18 months, is intended to identify the most convenient cooperation model to be applied with municipalities and the best monitoring devices to be used.

At the end of the pilot project, the participating cities and the government's partners will write an assessment report together. All parties involved will give their opinion on various aspects such as road safety, social acceptance, organization, use of the devices, as well as on the technological and financial aspects.

The municipalities and the government's partners in the project will then be better equipped to offer directions on the terms and conditions of the deployment of new devices in municipalities.

Note that Ville de Montréal has taken an active part in the project since the beginning of the photo radar project in 2009, and confirmed, in 2014, its intention to take part in the PPCM.

The devices introduced in 2009 in the municipalities of Thetford Mines, Lévis, Beauceville, Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Saint-Constant, Pincourt and Marieville will also remain in service.

Collaborators and partners

  • Ministère des Transports du Québec
  • Ministère de la Sécurité publique
  • Ministère de la Justice du Québec
  • Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP)
    Sûreté du Québec
  • Ville de Montréal, including the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM)
  • Ville de Québec, Ville de L'Ancienne-Lorette and Ville de Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, including the Service de police de la ville de Québec (SPVQ)
  • Ville de Longueuil, Ville de Boucherville, Ville de Brossard and Ville de Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, including the Service de police de l'agglomération de Longueuil (SPAL)
  • Ville de Laval including the Service de police de la Ville de Laval (SPVL)
  • Ville de Gatineau including the Service de police de la Ville de Gatineau. (SPVG)
  • Centre de services partagés du Québec
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