Photo radar: cash cow or safety initiative?

EDMONTON – Edmonton police say many motorists aren’t getting the message when it comes to how fast they’re driving on city streets. And it appears as though many of the speeders police are catching are high-flyers.

Thursday afternoon, police set up laser radar on Scona Road, where the speed limit is 50 kilometres an hour.

“And what we’ve seen is excessive speeds,” said Constable Jeff Sliwa with the Edmonton Police Service Traffic Services Enforcement Unit.

“We’ve had two motorists doing over 80 kilometres an hour. Both had to be chased down by police.”

During a 24-hour speed enforcement blitz which began at 7 a.m. Wednesday, police handed out 1,146 speeding tickets to Edmonton motorists. Of those, four were driving in excess of 50 km/h above the posted limit:

  • Motorist at Whitemud Drive / Quesnell Bridge – 165 km/h in 80 km/h zone, over by 85 km/h
  • Motorist at Anthony Henday Drive / 87 Avenue – 118 km/h in 50 km/h zone, over by 68 km/h
  • Motorist at 137 Avenue / 184 Street – 124 km/h in a 60 km/h zone, over by 64 km/h
  • Motorist at Anthony Henday Drive / St. Albert Trail – 151 km/h in 100 km/h zone, over by 51 km/h

“Day in and day out we’re getting people doing in excess of 20, 30, 40, 50 kilometres an hour over the speed limit,” Sliwa added.

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READ MORE: Edmonton police concerned with recent rise in excessive speeders

The City of Edmonton is also noticing motorists’ need for speed. In 2013, photo enforcement brought in $41.3 million in revenue – $11.2 million more than the city had anticipated.

“Obviously we are able to have that kind of revenue because we are speeding. If there were no speeders that wouldn’t be possible,” said Ward 2 City Councillor Bev Esslinger.

“I think it’s frustrating to many of us if we ever get that envelope in the mail, but at the same time we’re working to make the city safer,” added Esslinger.

The city says money from photo enforcement goes toward traffic safety initiatives, not into general city revenue. And while some motorists see it as a cash cow, many are accepting of the tactic, even those who have received tickets themselves.

“You know you did it,” said Angela MacDonald. “When it came in the mail, I was like ‘oh yeah, okay. I remember that day.'”

“Believe it or not, I have not got a ticket ever,” said Vic Iwaniuk, who added that if he did receive a ticket, he would deserve it.”There’s danger on the streets. And the people in this city, a lot of them speed excessively. And it’s scary.”

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And it’s that scary behaviour the city and police say they’re trying to change, through both photo and officer enforcement.

“As far as I know, it’s not going anywhere. It’s one of the ways we can address traffic safety,” said Esslinger.

“We had one today that was on the cell phone, speeding, and no seatbelt; couldn’t produce a driver’s license, couldn’t produce insurance. Drivers like this, we need to change their behaviour,” added Sliwa.

“We’re changing the behaviour – basically when we set up laser sites – one at a time.”

The EPS says the Anthony Henday and Whitemud Drive are particularly bad for excessive speeders.



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With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.

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