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Boost in B.C.'s red light cameras to reduce rising traffic fatalities: province

Thirty-five new red light cameras went live across B.C. today, as part of a larger effort to curb the growing number of traffic fatalities.

The cameras are expected to reduce the nearly 250 crashes that occur everyday at B.C. intersections, including decreasing the number of fatal crashes by "about six per cent annually," according to a statement from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

It's been a particularly grim year for traffic fatalities in Vancouver. More than 10 pedestrians died in the first six months of 2011, surpassing 2010's total of nine deaths, according to Vancouver police.

A slew of pedestrian deaths in late June recently prompted the Vancouver Police Department to "step up" enforcement at various city intersections.

Seventy cameras now operate at high-risk intersections across the province, including some in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, where a disproportionately high number of pedestrian deaths occur each year.

A 2009 joint-study by researchers at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia identified 32 hotspots for pedestrian injuries in Vancouver. Of the 32, nine occurred in the Downtown Eastside, representing 10 per cent of total pedestrian injuries in the city.

The $167 fine per ticket issued by the cameras is given to B.C. municipalities to enhance policing and community-based public safety programs, and more cameras are slated to go live in the coming months.

Robyn Smith writes for The Tyee and others.

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