Speeding tickets halved but councillors still upset with photo radar practices
Morinville – The second quarter of 2012 saw a decrease of nearly 1,000 fewer speeding tickets issued than in the same quarter of 2011.
Second quarter reports from Integrated Traffic Services Ltd., Morinville’s automated traffic enforcement contractor, show there were 1,299 speeding tickets issued between April and June this year, compared with 2,281 during the same quarter of 2011. The tickets were issued during 416 hours of monitoring.
While the number of tickets are down by almost half over the same quarter last year, the report shows the period also clocked the highest rate of speed since the program’s inception. On Apr. 15, a driver was clocked on 100 Street near the Tim Hortons travelling at 140 kilometres per hour in a 60 km/h zone.
Although no tickets are issued via Morinville’s two speed signs, the units continue to monitor and count traffic passing through the community. The 100 Avenue and 87 Street location sign showed 21 per cent of motorists were speeding at that location. By contrast, only 8.6 per cent of motorists were monitored speeding at the 100 Avenue and 102 Street sign.
Key spots generating bulk of tickets
Of the 416 hours the contractor spent in Morinville in the second quarter, 143 hours were spent at two locations, generating 890 of the 1,299 tickets. Those locations were 100 Avenue between Grandin Drive East and 87 Street and 100 Street between 87 Avenue and the curve in 100 Street.
Some members of Council expressed their concern the focus is on heavy ticket generating areas on the outskirts of town rather than areas where safety is the key issue.
Councillor Paul Krauskopf advocated a need to get photo radar away from the community’s fringes and into the downtown core. “The thing that upsets me is we know that there’s been people travelling 125 kilometres [per hour] right through town, and yet in downtown we’re only spending 40 hours enforcing it,” he said, adding 72 hours were spent on 100 Avenue at 87 Street on the edge of town. “Get downtown. Get these people. There are people speeding through downtown in the daytime. There’s more pedestrian traffic crossing here than at 87 Street or on Cardiff Road.”
The community’s original 20 photo radar locations have been cut down to 17. The original location near the pump house at the east end of town was removed some months ago. However, Councillor Lisa Holmes was not impressed with the alternative.
“He got rid of a couple hundred feet there,” Holmes said of the photo radar contractor’s change of venue. “This site that he spends all his time at – he just moved down the block.”
Holmes also expressed her view that it is not speeding education when drivers cannot see the photo radar operator, a complaint that has been echoed in the past by others in the community. “He hides up in the corner,” Holmes said, adding in St. Albert photo radar operators can be clearly seen.
Deputy Mayor David Pattison also expressed his concern about hidden photo radar. “I think we need to become much more open with this,” he said. “I still find the cameras behind the fence at South Glens. I still find the cameras behind the waste treatment plant on 100 Ave. on the east side. We really have got to get focused on the areas where this traffic safety is an issue.”
Chief Administrative Officer Debbie Oyarzun said the program has undergone revision and will likely see further revision as a result of public input from the Traffic and Pedestrian Safety open house held earlier this year.
One change that has already occurred is greater input from Morinville’s RCMP Staff Sergeant Mac Richards. Oyarzun said Richards has provided specific direction on not only locations but how much time should be allocated to each of those locations.
“At least now we can start comparing apples with apples, so to speak, because previously there was a couple of sites where there was very significant number of hours being spent and a larger number of tickets,” she said. “And then there would be a very small amount of time being spent and still no tickets. Now we’ve got better distribution.”
Almost 8 million vehicles have been monitored passing through Morinville since the automated enforcement program began in 2010.
Oyarzun said she is personally concerned with some of the peak speeds being captured on 100 Avenue, given the number of children in the community. “Small kids and speed don’t mix,” Oyarzun said, adding she is more confident the community has a better handle and understanding of the program, its locations and amount of time spent at each location. “We’ll have better comparative data to understand where our areas of concern are.”