There are two kinds of laws society observes – the written and the unwritten, the enforceable and the unenforceable. Unwritten and unenforceable laws include stuff like letting those exiting an elevator do so before we pile in. Unwritten and unenforceable laws include holding the door for someone if they are within three paces behind you. Added to that list is letting someone with only one item go ahead of you and your cart full of groceries at the checkout. Written laws include stealing, assault and speeding.
Let’s be clear. Stealing something small is still stealing. Punching someone in the face only once instead of forty times is still assault. Driving 10 kilometres over the speed limit is still speeding. So we have no sympathy for petty thieves, minor beatings or people with lead feet.
Automated traffic enforcement tickets were down 63 per cent in the last quarter of 2012 and down again in the first quarter of 2013. In both quarters, the majority of tickets were issued in school zones, primarily the one by Morinville Public Elementary School. In the first quarter of 2013, Integrated Traffic Services issued 335 tickets in that zone, the result of spending a lot of their time there.
We’ve not heard one single person who is upset about ITS setting up shop in school zones. In fact, many residents have told us they ought to put a lot of focus there and in our residential neighbourhoods.
Where people get upset is when the photo radar vehicle is parked at Morinville’s east end, behind a pump house, as some recent photos sent our way seem to reveal. That is when we hear the words cash cow and unethical used in conjunction with photo radar. The discussion has come up in Council in the past and came up again May 28 in response to our question on the matter.
Statistics collected from the 100 Avenue and 102 Street speed sign indicate not only is traffic through Morinville increasing, speeds are as well. Roughly 14 per cent of the 284,000 drivers who passed the signs from January to March were speeding. The situation at the eastern entrance to town showed 20 per cent of motorists were speeding. The top speed at the east boundary sign was 127 km/h in the 50 km/h zone.
This is not acceptable. Driving into or out of town at more than twice the posted speed limit is not a matter of failing to observe the posted speed limit or even being a little heavy on the gas pedal because your mind was wandering. It is a blatant disregard for the law that is emboldened by the absence of law enforcement at that moment.
A speed sign will correct the behaviour of those who would ordinarily obey the speed limit. A reading of 53 km/h in a 50 km/h zone would likely cause 80 per cent of drivers to pause and reflect on their behaviour by immediately applying their brakes to reduce their speed. But it does nothing for the driver doing double plus the speed limit. They simply do not care.
Exorbitant speeders need tickets and a few demerit points, but if the goal is to slow people down as they pass through town in order to improve traffic and pedestrian safety, we need to have enforcement seen. Whether that’s a Peace Officer parked occasionally at East Boundary Road or photo radar doing a shift there, both should be clearly visible to motorists to have an affect. There is nothing like being followed by flashing red lights to make someone do a quick reality check.
If you speed past a clearly marked enforcement vehicle, you deserve a little skinnier wallet. You deserve the ticket if you speed past a hidden photo radar vehicle, too. The difference is a clearly marked vehicle gives the driver a reminder to do the right thing before passing the clearly marked vehicle and speeding into town. A hefty photo radar ticket, as deserved as it may be, does absolutely nothing for the poor sod that gets t-boned a half-kilometer up the road because the speeder never saw the guy that just photographed his license plate.