Editorial: A different approach to traffic safety

You might have noticed two things if you happened to be driving westbound on 100 Avenue near the pump house during rush hour Thursday night: The photo radar truck was parked there looking eastbound for those rushing to get out of town, and a guy was standing on the sidewalk with a camera pointed towards the west. I was the man with the camera.

After our interview and story with the McCann family on the death of their dog, Zero, and the family’s desire to curb what they see as an ongoing speeding problem near 87 Street, I decided to do a little experiment of my own by photographing the educational speed sign there. I didn’t realize the photo radar truck was there when I began the experiment, but quickly came to understand why the speeds my camera caught were at or well below the posted speed limit.

The Town of Morinville has just released the second quarter numbers for 2013. Integrated Traffic Services indicate “the sign located on 100 Avenue near 87 Street has continued to capture a high incidence (21%) of vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit, with the highest capture in the second quarter of 155 [kilometres per hour].”

Morinville’s eastern boundary clearly has a speeding problem. What that speeding problem is has largely been framed from the perspective of whether one is for or against photo radar. Whether people speed as a matter of habit, defiance or simply by not paying attention to posted speeds, it is pretty evident in the statistics that the speed sign or speed limit sign are slowing down 79 per cent of drivers heading west on Highway 642.

The problem is if they are slowing down when they see their speed on the educational sign, they are not slowing down prior to 87 Street, where I personally witnessed six out of six drivers do a rolling stop at the stop sign as they drove onto the highway. That is a T-bone waiting to happen. If visitors and residents in the Sunshine Lake neighbourhood won’t stop at the actual stop sign, perhaps they and others are unlikely to do so if there are three of them as the McCann’s propose. That is not to say a three-way stop is not one potential solution, merely there may be others.

The Town of Morinville has advocated for the province has approved a change in speed zone on that stretch of highway so there is an intermediary speed between the 100 km/h and 50 km/h zone. It could be 70 km/h or 60 km/h. This will certainly slow honest drivers as it does on Highway 2 entering and leaving St. Albert; however, the Town could and should take another step. Instead of having the speed education sign slow drivers after they have past East Boundary Road and 87 Street, why not move the education sign further east between 87 and East Boundary Road. That way drivers are slowed by the transition in speed and those going a little too fast for the flashing sign’s liking can get a reminder to slow down some before they reach 87 Street.

Though needing the approval of Alberta Transportation, it is neither a costly or unlikely option, and it is an idea one Town councillor found to be sound when she stopped to see why a local news guy was photographing a speed sign on 100 Avenue.

Work on traffic safety is being done here. As we enter the start of another school year, the addition of zebra markings and flashing crossing lights at school and other key crossings is an inexpensive and welcome addition to the community’s safety picture.

Although it is unlikely to be popular with many in the downtown core, increasing the no parking zone another five metres from the corners will improve visibility for pedestrians crossing the road and for motorists trying to cross 100 Avenue or 100 Street.

It is in small sensible measures that traffic and pedestrian safety can be improved. Some drivers will still be clocked going 155 km/h in a 50 km/h zone and drivers will continue to roll up on crossing pedestrians in anticipation of that pedestrian being far enough past their bumper that they can go on their speedy little way. Some drivers will continue to do U-turns or park on a provincial highway and truckers will continue to race down the off ramp using their jake brakes. It has often been said a ticket is a strong reminder to obey the rules. The greater deterrent is the loss of demerit points and that only comes when a driver is pulled over by police or bylaw officers.

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4 Comments

  1. I myself have never seen anyone ever cross the road at the 87 st and 100 ave intersection ever since 1969. Donèt see any reason for someone to cross there

  2. As a family that lives at this end of town, the noise of vehicles revving up their vehicles to change from 50 to 100km leaving town is extremely annoying. And for those coming into town, especially large trucks on their jake break gearing down from the 100km to 50km. Same for the motorcycles. Hard to imagine you can identify a type of vehicle by those accelerations and decelerations. I can’t count how often I’ve come out of 87thst onto 100ave and on coming traffic is exceeding the speed as shown on the flashing speed sign. And they still are not breaking or slowing. Come back to school time, this is an area where children are waiting for busses or being dropped off from the bus. I worry it is an area waiting for a bad situation to happen. I hope that is never the case. And that people will become more accountable for their speeds before something does happen. Thank you for bringing this awareness forward.

  3. Apparently the Province of Alberta and the town of Morinville think this area is just fine as they are doing NOTHING to address the situation other than hide the photo radar contractor there to make some money !!! I still question why the school busses drop off kids at that location by the sewage plant and force them to cross the road there? Why don’t the busses turn off and discharge their passengers on 87th? Also, the 50 KPH zone starts well east of the boundary road, well outside of Morinville limits, so I can’t see why the town wants a transition zone (according to the Province of Alberta there is no such thing!) from 100 down to 80 down to 50? Perhaps the town will build a parking spot behind the “Welcome to Morinville” sign for the photo radar to hide behind! That would make sense as vehicles coming INTO Morinville should be obeying the speed limits. Maybe, in the near future, Morinville will want the speed limit on Hwy 642 down to 80 from Highway 28 just to be on the “safe” side!! I still think a visible presence like the RCMP or Peace Officers patrolling the area will effect change and encourage safe driving habits more than photo radar! Demerit points rule!! Common sense will prevail, I hope, but I am not counting on it!

  4. @ Editor, well written article. I for one oppose the photo radar, not for what it does, but to the way it is handled by the town and the radar operator.
    This last attempt was obviously in response to the accident involving the McCann’s family pet but was clearly set up to get the maximum of cash return for time spent at that location. The vehicle was so far back that it was even hard to see going westbound.

    As far as the town stats from that sign, I feel those signs are way to inaccurate to really have any validity. I make a point of slowing down and putting cruise control on @ 49-52 kph (according to my GPS) just before hitting the boundary road and I see that sign jump from 46 all the way to 59 kph before settling on an actual speed. For the 155 number, I’d be more inclined to look at emergency vehicle responding to a call (Keeping in mind the fluctuations ) than an actual speeder.
    @pwd, trust me there are kids crossing that road every morning and afternoon during school. Maybe you just go by there at the wrong time.

    @ Will, well said. As I’ve said numerous times on this forum, yes there is a speeding issue on that stretch of road but, photo radar is not the way to curb it.
    Getting a bill in the mail for what amount to the equivalent of a night out will not ever force anyone to think twice about their habits. Loosing a few demerits on the other hand will.

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