Speeding tickets halved but councillors still upset with photo radar practices

By Stephen Dafoe

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.”

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10 Comments

  1. Interesting, now that Strathcona County has stated that photo radar is a money grab versus a safety tool and gotten rid of photo radar, our Councillors are now showing much more concern for “safety” rather than generating revenue! If Council is indeed concerned about safety, follow the lead of Strathcona County. Get RID of photo radar and put more of a presence on the streets i.e. hire more RCMP, Sheriffs or CPO’s. And those two speed signs are a joke! I come in 642 from Hwy 28 every day and as I pass that speed sign by the sewage station going between 45 – 50 kph, it fluctuates between 40 and 60 kph. If it is set up the way they usually are, it records the Max speed which would be 60 even though I was going less than 50 kph. Another rip off by that company, sending out false data as a scare tactic! If accurate speeds were recorded, there probably would be less speeders recorded! I realize that most supporters of photo radar will be concerned because being “handed” a ticket rather than being “mailed” a ticket means that the driver will also receive demerit points. And if enough points are collected, that driver will no longer be a menace on the road nor will they be able to contribute more funds to the provincial / municiple coffers. That is why photo radar is so popular with governments, they can keep collecting over and over again with NO consequences for the driver other than being out of pocket for fines. So, Morinville Council, is it “safety” for our citizens or “revenue” for the annual budget?

  2. Not surprising at all. Most of the tickets were issued in low-risk areas where drivers have greater depth and field of view, and thus drive a bit faster, quite safely.

    The article makes it sound like most of town council is against the way the program is being run… and yet it is still being run in a sneaky way that nobody is supporting.

    Who is running this program?

  3. I would like to thank the Councillors for their comments regarding spending larger periods of time on the fringes of town; hiding their vehicles, etc. These comments are the same that have been written about for the last 2 years. Cliff and I attended the Traffic & Safety open house and we are anxiously awaiting to see what will be the outcome of that exercise. We are concerned about speeding and safety, as we live right between Sunnydale Park and Sunshine Park and watch speeders break the speed every day while little kids run across Sunnydale Road to get to one of the parks. Get Photo Radar to work right out in the open and help protect the safety of our little ones.
    Maybe eventually photo radar will be where they need to be and when they need to be.
    Linda

  4. How ironic!!

    After all the photo-radar nonsense we went through (particularly over the last year or so), Council seems to FINALLY be coming around to ALMOST admitting that this isn’t so much about SAFETY as it is about it being a CASH COW!

    And it’s THAT reality we were so hopeful of getting Council and Administration to realize and come clean to the citizens of Morinville about!

    With school commencing next week, it better be “all hands on deck” in terms of catching those who would tear through town like it was the Daytona Speedway.

    Have a nice day!

  5. While I’m not totally opposed to reasonable use of photo radar combined with driver education, I feel the only way to make child heavy areas safer is to have police speed traps to stop excessive speeders before someone gets hurt. Getting a ticket in the mail 3 weeks later gives excessive chronic speeders 3 more weeks to endanger our children before they even know they were caught.

  6. While I’d personally LOVE to see a whole bunch of speeders get nailed by an actual cop and handed a ticket how much would it cost us to really make a dent? Getting rid of photo radar is not the correct solution. Increasing police presence in town AND having photo radar seems to me like a more appropriate solution. And frankly, I’m all for speeders getting nailed by photo radar and paying towards our expenses in some way. Be they from Morinville or not. If you don’t want to pay the fine don’t speed. Anywhere. End of story.

  7. Perhaps a solution to the message being lost after waiting 3 weeks for a ticket can be easily corrected by hiring an off duty police officer to wait around the corner from photo radar guy. As you pass the photo radar he can radio ahead to the officer around the corner…. there you go, you won’t have to wait 3 weeks in order to have it confirmed that you can’t follow the simplest of civic rules…. And for an added bonus you could have an additional sur-charge added to your ticket for us having to hire an off duty police officer.

    And if you act quickly, because this photo radar stuff is keeping you up at night, we can suggest that you take a Defensive Drivers Course (DDC) which will teach you that your license is a privilage and not a right….. and that speed limits, like your blinkers are not an option.

  8. I enjoyed reading what the owner of the business who tickets people in this community had to say in the Free Press. His tune hasn’t changed a bit since I spoke with him over two years ago. That is, this genuine concern about speeders jeopardizing the safety of our citizens. Bravo!!! Yet it is all a load of crap. He’s in the business to scab off of people’s mistakes, period. The bottom line is, if you don’t want to put your hard earned money in his wallet then don’t speed, yet it makes me ill to read about his false concerns.
    Maybe it will take another few years of filling his and the town’s pockets before our council will realize what everyone else in the country knows now. That is, photo radar does not slow people down. Police officers do.

  9. Hello citizens I am sad to say the highest speed attained was in my vehicle by one of my previous roomates which one I am not sure. I wish I did because even just as the owner the ticket came with a mandatory court appearance and a fine ranging from 500-3000 again I would like to appologize for there actions thanks

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