Since 2016, at least 44 schools have been monitored by mobile photo radar in Quebec, according to data from the Department of Justice. These devices have issued no less than 51,650 statements of offense, for a total of 9.4 million in fines.
The crackdown around schools has intensified recently. As proof, twice as many tickets were issued in 2022 as in previous years, at a rate of approximately 46 per day.
One primary school in Montreal stands out in particular: École Christ-Roi, in the borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville. A quarter of the reports issued by mobile radars in school zones were distributed at this location alone.
The traffic flow around Christ-Roi school is very high. The primary school is located between two major axes, namely Berri and Lajeunesse streets. In the surrounding area, the presence of the mobile radar manned by an SPVM police officer, two or three days a week, is welcome.
“This radar is mounted on a big white truck, and when it’s there, motorists know it and slow down,” said Garfield, the crossing guard who works at the corner of Berri and Louvain. Motorists who speed are those who do not pass often. »
The brigadier notices, however, that motorists hasten to adopt dangerous behavior on days when the mobile speed camera is absent.
About twice a day, the brigadier says he sees motorists running a red light at his intersection. “The problem is that a child can start crossing because it is within their rights. It is for this reason that I have to be very vigilant and especially tell the children never to run. »
At the next street corner, at the corner of Louvain and Lajeunesse, Brigadier César, who has worked there for seven years, wears a Go Pro-style camera around his neck to film his intersection. “It’s for everyone’s safety. If ever there were to be an accident, we could have proof. »
The addition of the REV bike path along Lajeunesse a few years ago reduced the space allocated to drivers of motor vehicles on the public road, which had the effect of making the area safer, he notes. he. “Since they put the bike path, it’s better. It helps. »
For Sandrine Cabana-Degani, director of Piétons Québec, the situation demonstrates that we must quickly “multiply” photo radars in Quebec. “These figures illustrate that speed is not respected around schools. There is still a normalization of speeding in school zones,” she said.
The majority of the 44 schools visited by mobile speed cameras are in Gatineau (23) and Montreal (8). Four schools in Quebec were subject to such surveillance at one time, but these operations date from 2016. In fact, the documents of the Ministry of Justice do not reveal any findings issued by a mobile radar around a school in the capital for more than five years.
However, the speed problem also seems widespread in Quebec. When a mobile radar was installed in June 2016 in front of the Cœur-Vaillant-Campanile school (now the Campanile school), in the Sainte-Foy sector, no less than 1,505 reports had been submitted in six months.
“If there were more speed cameras around schools, it would send the message that we are ending impunity, that we must respect speeds. All of this would help to integrate a culture change, ”continues the manager.
But photo radar alone cannot stem the speed problem. “Radar is just one measure among others. In the vicinity of the Christ-Roi school, for example, there are many busy arteries that border the school. It must be combined with sustainable facilities that will promote a reduction in speed, ”she insists.
The debate on mobile photo radars has resurfaced since the death of little Mariia Legenkovska, killed last December in a hit and run while on her way to school. Data from the Department of Justice also show that his school, Jean-Baptiste-Meilleur, located near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, has never received a visit from a mobile photo radar.
In the office of Mayor Valérie Plante, it is argued that these statistics are “worrying”. “Residential neighborhoods are places to live, not shortcuts. […] It shows the need to accelerate the pace in terms of security and to multiply the measures if we want to see a change in behavior, ”says press officer Ibsen Pepperall Gutiérrez.
“That’s why we’re going to keep widening our sidewalks, making our bike paths safer, adding pedestrian lights, speed bumps, etc. “, he adds.
Called to react, the Minister of Transport Geneviève Guilbault reiterates that the government is working “on the realization of a road safety plan” which “will tackle the problem on several fronts”. His press officer, Louis-Julien Dufresne, assures that “photo radars will be one of the solutions put forward by this plan”.