Photo radar is a hot topic in our community and people have strong opinions on the subject.
I believe Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE), or photo radar, was first implemented in our community for safety and I fully support a safer community. Studies show that for every 5 km/h over 60km/hr, a pedestrian that is struck has an increased risk of becoming a fatality. Photo radar is proven to provide benefits and change driver behaviours, but I think to be truly used for safety the cameras should be located in school and playground zones and other high pedestrian areas. What’s with the half-hidden behind bushes practice that I see so often on Highway 16A and Century Road? To be effective in reducing speeding, photo radar vehicles have to be visible. Drivers have to know it’s there and they will modify their driving and slow down. I’m in favour of keeping ATE for red light and stop sign infractions as this lessens “runners” and decreases intersection collisions.
I think part of the issue is photo radar is contracted out to a private third party company. They place the photo radar vehicles in high-traffic areas to ticket a high volume of drivers, because that translates into PROFITS. I take exception to photo radar vehicles half-hidden in the bushes; that in itself creates a hazardous distraction for drivers. This sneaky, covert practice is creating negative optics for our community. If visitors think every time they come through our city they get a speeding ticket for a minor speed infraction they will go around. This will have a negative effect on our businesses.
Right now the City’s photo radar revenue goes into General Funds. I would like to see funds from photo radar designated for safety initiatives or programs in our community like bike safety courses (especially for young riders), or solar lights along our trail system. I heard a story from a resident that a young rider knew to use their bell but didn’t understand the etiquette of passing pedestrians on their bike. Perhaps we can do more to encourage bicycle riding and provide targeted safety courses in our community. The revenue could also contribute to additional crosswalks, particularly in areas where seniors live because right now there is quite a long distance between some of these crosswalks.
Photo radar would be cost prohibitive to bring in-house. We don’t have the personnel or the money to pay for the hours it would take to man the vehicles, manage the processing of information, or the equipment to run this ourselves. A third party company could be a workable option, but the City must have more control, and be able to designate and/or have the ability to influence the locations that are targeted by photo radar cameras. I support photo radar being used in school zones and playgrounds areas — let’s truly use it for safety!
The Provincial Government launched a review of photo radar guidelines in 2019. Many residents had filed complaints expressing concern over photo radar being misused in municipalities. Spruce Grove h chose not to eliminate photo radar completely. City Council at that time reviewed its operational effectiveness and made recommendations.
For more information about Photo Radar in Spruce Grove, visit: Automated Traffic Enforcement - City of Spruce Grove