Alas, the freewheelin’ days of minimal traffic enforcement on the east coast may be coming to an end, as the province of New Brunswick has legalized speed and red light cameras, starting in April of 2023.
This is sad news, as it’s probably the start of a trend on the east coast. For years, the Atlantic provinces have seen minimal traffic enforcement, which means no silly “5 over in an 80 zone” tickets. In fact, for many riders, it means no tickets at all. If you mind yourself on city streets and the major highways, you can pretty much stay ticket-free, as you’ll rarely encounter traffic enforcement anywhere else.
That’s not saying the province is a free-for-all for speeding, because everyone knows that enforcement crackdowns inevitably follow the problems resulting from excessive stupidity. For instance, a few years back, one particular deserted stretch of road on Saint John, NB’s periphery drew a consistent police presence every Sunday afternoon after the local sportbike set started using it as a playground for weekly wheelie contests.
However, that sort of thing was rare on the east coast, and with few police patrolling the streets and roads, there was little risk of getting a ticket. But now, with automated speed cameras and red light cameras legalized in NB, it’s much more likely.
Of course, red light cameras are generally a very good thing, as they cut down on problems at intersections, one of the most dangerous areas for motorcyclists. A camera that automatically tickets red light runners will hopefully reduce this danger by educating drivers via financial incentives. The only real danger for motorcyclists is a greedy city council that shortens yellow light times in order to hand out more tickets (a real problem in some American cities).
Speed cameras are a different beast, though. While excessive speed can certainly be dangerous, speed limits are often a bit more arbitrary, and a speed camera is unable to make the same discretionary calls that an actual human police officer can make.
Furthermore, NB municipalities are already clamoring for a share of the revenue from those speed cameras, and we can see where that’s headed. Towns’ interest in speed enforcement declined once they lost their share of the revenue from tickets, and now that there’s potential for a whole lot more tickets, it’s no surprise that cities and villages are suddenly interested in speed limits again… which opens up several cans of worms.
At least for now, those tickets won’t cost you any points against your licence. Since speed cameras can’t prove who was driving a vehicle, the tickets will just be mailed to the vehicle’s registered owner. Any bets that that will also change eventually, as technology progresses?
As for the other Atlantic provinces: Nova Scotia has been less fussy about traffic enforcement in recent years, despite its history of airplane-based patrols and its strict anti-stunting laws. Might leaders there, and in PEI, be motivated by New Brunswick’s move towards speed cameras? Seems possible in NS (Halifax politicians were asking for speed and red light cameras in 2022), but maybe not on the Island. As speeds have definitely picked up on PEI’s Route 2, though… maybe there will be incentive in years to come. The western end of this highway has become a free-for-all in recent years, resembling something from Mad Max: Fury Road, and sooner or later that will cause a major accident that increases calls for enforcement, enforcement which cannot be provided by an occasional car posted on that road.