James Aisaican-Chase is fighting a red light camera ticket the same way he's battling terminal cancer — with conviction. The 71-year-old appeared in a Winnipeg traffic court Wednesday morning to give his testimony five months ahead of his scheduled trial date.
"Twenty-eighth of June is supposed to be my deadline of when doctors gave me to live," Aisaican-Chase told reporters outside.
Crown Attorney Andrew Slough said he was prepared to stay the charges given the accused's health, but Aisaican-Chase wanted the case to proceed in hopes of persuading the City of Winnipeg to lengthen amber light times in some speed zones.
"I believe in fighting for other people no matter how difficult the situation is," said Aisaican-Chase. "I'm doing this to prevent this from happening to others."
In October 2015, the then-69-year-old was on his way home from a doctor's appointment when the lights on Bishop Grandin Boulevard approaching River Road — an 80 km/h zone — turned amber. The Winnipeg senior didn't think he had enough time to stop, so he kept going, thinking he would make it through the intersection before the light turned red. He didn't.
"I was surprised .... It wasn't sufficient amber for me to clear the intersection," he told the court. "I didn't know that the amber was just four seconds".
Todd Dube, founder of ticket-fighting group Wise Up Winnipeg was in court to support Aisaican-Chase. He said this is the only city in the world that has four-second amber lights at every intersection regardless of the speed limit.
"The fact is, you need enough time to stop," said Dube, who is assisting with the court battle.
Dube said he plans to bring in two expert witnesses to testify about amber light times at the trial which is scheduled to begin Sept. 6.
Dube believes amber lights should be between five and six seconds in 80 km/h zones, and not four seconds as they currently are.
"Naturally, the higher the speed the longer the amber time needs to be."
He said if drivers are far enough away they are able to slow down in time to stop. But as they get closer, they no longer have that luxury.
"What happens is you're in what's called a dilemma zone when you have too short of an amber. It produces a zone — kind of a no man's land — where you really don't have a viable option. You can't reasonably stop. Your senses tell you you're going at this speed, there's the intersection — you just proceed through it," Dube said.
Profitable but dangerous
At most Winnipeg intersections where the speed limit is 80 km/h there are signs with flashing lights warning drivers when the light is about to turn amber, but Dube said those signs are absent from two particular intersections that happen to have red light cameras — Bishop Grandin and River Road, where Aisaican-Chase got his ticket, and Lagimodiere Boulevard at Grassie Boulevard.
"Not only do these cameras at 80 zones issue 800 per cent more tickets on average through red-light runners … they're dangerous. They're profitable but they're dangerous," said Dube.
Dube said he first became aware of the issue eight years ago when he received a red-light camera ticket in an 80 km/h zone. His vehicle was tagged entering the intersection at 4.1 seconds after the amber light signalled — 0.1 seconds after the light turned red. Dube said Aisaican-Chase crossed into the intersection 0.29 seconds after the light changed from amber to red.
"I want the courts to do the right thing and rule on this, saying that is not enough time. We've got to stop this four-second amber in an 80," said Aisaican-Chase.
He compared his court battle to the clinical trials he signed up in his cancer fight.
"I believe that fighting this ticket is the right thing to do just like fighting cancer, cause if I go on clinical trials and if I do pass they might learn something from my disease to help somebody else. And that's exactly the way I live."