By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Photo radar will be coming to Morinville soon, a notion that will come as quite a surprise to those in the community who have received speeding tickets in the mail over the past few years.
Bruce Kaminski, owner of Independent Traffic Services (ITS), Morinville’s speed enforcement contractor, made a 20-minute presentation to Council June 12, outlining statistics, motivations for the program, changes in locations, and how the company will add photo radar to what is currently being used in town.
“We currently use laser tactics,” Kaminski said, adding the one drawback of the system is the non-reflective nature of Alberta licence plates makes his laser system ineffective at night. “We are adding radar to our program because radar can work at night, can work in inclement weather conditions. We can offer a more well-rounded package.”
Kaminski said the ability to conduct speed enforcement at night will not impact the total hours his company operates in Morinville, something governed by the contract with the Town. However, it will allow enforcement to occur at any hour of the day. “It’ll just give us a better overall program for Morinville,” he said, adding radar is a less-covert form of enforcement than the laser system currently in use. “It stands out a little bit more. It’s got the flash on the bumper, so people get educated by that vehicle as well.”
ITS’ photo radar van set up will have cameras mounted front and back, enabling speeders to be caught in either direction.
Motivated by experience
Kaminski, a firefighter with the City of Edmonton for the past 25 years, said he was motivated to start the company after seeing a number of traffic fatalities.
“After seeing this over and over, I decided to do something about it,” Kaminiski said, adding another motivating factor was personally being hit by a speeding vehicle while attending an emergency call. “I just got fed up and said we’ve got to slow people down. It’s injuring people, wrecking lives and causing too many fatalities.”
The ITS owner said he looked at what was happening in the province and designed a program that combined education with enforcement. The Town of Morinville was ITS’ first client. He has since added the Town of Stony Plain and the City of Brooks. The company has 27 vehicles conducting the program in the three communities.
Kaminski told councillors Morinville now has 17 speed enforcement locations. Four locations were removed from the original 20, and one new location has been added. That new location is behind Morinville Community High School, an area of concern selected by Morinville RCMP Staff Sergeant Mac Richards.
Removed from the original mix are the two town boundary locations at the east and west entrances to town as well as two others on 100 Avenue. This does not mean speeding is not a problem at the East Boundary Road area. Kaminski said the speed education sign at that location indicates 70 per cent of those entering Morinville from the east are speeding. “The sign is making a huge impact at slowing them before they hit the more urban area of town,” Kaminski said.
The ITS owner said his staff operates anytime between the hours of dawn and dusk, first going to a location where few or no tickets have been issued. If no tickets are issued at that location, the operator moves to an area where a significant number of tickets have been issued. “It appears like we’re spending the balance of our time where the majority of the tickets are, and – realistically – we are, but we’re trying to cover the areas that there’s low ticket volumes and we’re trying to cover the areas where there is a speeding concern,” he told Council.
Since the program began in Morinville in January of 2009, Kaminski’s education signs alone have clocked the speeds of 7.4 million vehicles. Overall, 7 to 10 per cent of those passing through town are speeding.
No transition zones
In answer to a question asked by Councillor Paul Krauskopf, Kaminski defended ticketing people near speed signs, stating his company always allows a grace distance. But he disputed the notion of transition zones, something that has been argued by many opponents to how photo radar has operated the past three years in the community.
“There are no transition zones in the Town of Morinville, period,” Kaminski said, adding the RCMP invited the Solicitor General out to view the controversial East Boundary Road location. “There is no excuse for speeding in that area. The Solicitor General’s Office and the Traffic Safety Act clearly says the posted sign is the posted sign. There is no transitioning allowed, period.”
Kaminski anticipates having his photo radar van in the fleet within the next 30 days. It is his plan to advertise the inclusion of radar in Morinville prior to its implementation.