Does Getting a Photo Radar Ticket Affect Insurance?

January 16, 2023


Photo radar is still somewhat of a recent practice in Ontario. The Highway Traffic Act granted permission to use “automated speed enforcement” within school zones and community safety areas. Basically what it is are photo radar cameras that are programmed to detect the speed of moving vehicles. If a vehicle is deemed to be speeding, the camera will then take a picture of that vehicle’s license plate. These cameras do not require a police officer or operator to function, and work entirely remotely. They may also be referred to as “Automated Speed Enforcement Systems.”

But long story short? If you’re caught speeding by a photo radar camera, you can get a ticket. Not fun.

Whether or not you were aware you committed a moving violation – (and we all know the feeling of blasting down the road, well over the speed limit, only to realize that parked car on the side of the road is actually a police cruiser) – it’s not a good feeling to receive a photo radar ticket in the mail.

Does getting a photo radar ticket affect your insurance the same way any other moving violations would if you were pulled over by a police officer?

If you got a ticket in the mail, what does that mean for your auto insurance?

Automated Speed Enforcement Cameras function like red light cameras. Ultimately, they won’t affect your insurance premiums. That’s no reason to take them lightly, however. These cameras may not hike your premiums, but that doesn’t mean they won’t punch a considerable hole in your wallet. These cameras, rather than ticketing the person who is driving the car, takes a picture of the license plate, so it’s impossible for the police to know who was driving the car at the time of the infraction. (By the way, this also goes to show – be careful who you lend your vehicle to!)

The ticket will be issued to the registered address of the owner of the vehicle, who will, in turn, be responsible for its payment simply because the actual driver is unknown. In addition:

  • You will not receive any demerit points for the infraction
  • Your driving record will not be impacted
  • Your insurance premiums will not increase

Insurance companies have no way to access the information that is gathered from photo radar tickets, so you can rest assured that your insurance is not impacted and, if you had a first-violation waiver endorsement, that won’t be impacted either.

How much does it cost to pay a photo radar ticket fine?

Most photo radar cameras are set up either in school zones or in “community safety zones.” That’s the proper name for them, anyway. These areas are locations where elderly people and children may be crossing the street frequently, whether they’re going to a long-term care home or to a school. Fines will be proportionate to how fast you are going when the photo radar camera catches you.

I.e., if you are going anywhere between 1-19km/h over the speed limit, you’ll be looking at a fine at about $5/km over the limit.

If you are going between 20-29km/h over the speed limit, you’ll be paying $7.50/km over the limit.

If you are going 30-49km/h over the speed limit, you’ll be paying $12/km over the limit.

If you are going 50km/h or more over the speed limit, you’ll be summoned to appear in court, as anything over 50km/h over the speeding limit is a criminal offense. Your penalty will be decided by a judge. So, if you have any crazy speed demon friends, family members, or neighbours, don’t lend your car to them! Simply telling the judge that it wasn’t you driving the car at the time doesn’t absolve you of any liability for this offense, and you can face some serious penalties.

Think of it this way: having your car detected speeding by a photo radar camera is considered a liability offense less than a moving violation.

What are the benefits of photo radar cameras in Ontario?

Speed cameras have been proven to greatly benefit traffic all around Ontario, reducing speeding violations and acting as something of a “calming measure” for the worst of traffic. All in all, it helps to keep the roads safer.

Photo radar was actually discontinued back in the early 1990s, only to be reintroduced in 2020. These cameras are positioned exclusively in community safety zones, making it hard for anyone to argue against their benefits in keeping our children and elderly pedestrians safe. In all other jurisdictions of Canada and the United States that have implemented photo radar programs, there has been considerable success.

As an example, Quebec reported in 2016 that the implementation of the photo radar camera program reduced average speeds by up to 15km/h and accidents have been reduced up to 40% in relevant areas.

New York City, known for its tumultuous traffic, saw a reduction in speeding by over 60% and a fall in pedestrian injuries by 23%.

Undoubtedly, the implementation of this program has a huge amount of benefits. There are some drawbacks, however, including:

  • Wealthy people aren’t impacted by the photo radar cameras, as there’s no other penalty besides the monetary fee.
  • Citizens believe that the city will implement more cameras simply to increase the revenue they generate from issuing tickets.
  • People may be at a heightened risk of being rear-ended when they slam their breaks upon entering community safety zones.

If you have any further questions regarding photo radar cameras, or how speeding violation tickets impact your insurance, don’t hesitate to give an Excalibur Defender a call today!