Playing politics with peoples’ lives

If you follow this blog you know that photo radar is a touchy subject with us.

Some people call it a “cash cow” for the municipalities which use it.  To us, photo radar is a valuable tool in slowing traffic and saving lives. That is what the research says in many studies in a dozen different jurisdictions.

Since our son, David, was killed three years ago while crossing Whyte Avenue by a distracted driver, we have taken the time to read those studies and separate fact from fiction.

So when the new leader of the Alberta PC Party sent out a tweet this week asking people whether photo radar should be banned, our blood started to boil.


Jason Kenney bases his query on the fact that “the good people of Drayton Valley” recently voted down the use of automated speed and red light cameras. Roughly 12,000 tickets were issued in the past year for speeding and running red lights. Its doubtful the local RCMP can catch all those violators. Drayton Valley is now a “free-to-speed community.”

People continually complain that photo radar unfairly targets motorists who are driving at a “safe speed” — just a little above the posted limit. This week the City of Edmonton released its 2016 photo radar statistics, and much was made in the media about the 63,227 drivers ticketed for going 6-10 km/h above the legal limit.

But take a look at the numbers more closely and you find that group is only 12 percent of the 522,795 photo radar tickets mailed out. In fact the big picture shows there is a real problem with speeding in Edmonton.

  • 87% of tickets were for speeds at least 11 km/h over the limit (459,568 tickets)
  • 39% of the tickets were for speeds at least 16 km/h above the limit (205,269 tickets)

In other words, the vast majority of those ticketed were driving far in excess of the speed limit. So what exactly is their excuse for complaining?

We’ve said it before and it bears repeating. Driving even a bit above the posted limit is dangerous. The World Health Organization, just one of many experts on this subject, has this to say:

“An increase in average speed of one km/h typically results in a 3% higher risk of a crash involving injury, with a 4-5 % increase for crashes that result in fatalities.”

So Jason Kenney and the people of Drayton Valley are literally gambling with peoples’ lives in exchange for votes.

But there was one bright spot in the traffic safety debate this week. Lafarge Canada’s Bruce Willmer disclosed this week that his company’s 60 cement truck operators have been ordered to drive at 10 km/h below the speed limit. Its all part of a plan to ensure the hulking trucks can avoid collisions with vehicles and pedestrians.

Willmer says the slower speeds, which they can monitor through GPS, have not affected their business.

“What we found is that it really hasn’t affected our delivery times or cost.”

So who do you want setting an example for creating safe roads? Lafarge Canada’s Bruce Willmer or Jason Kenney and his like-minded cohorts on Drayton Valley town council?