Morinville residents who attend this weekend’s Morinville Trade Show have the opportunity to get information and to ask questions on photo radar enforcement at the Town of Morinville’s booth. It is time to separate FACT from FICTION. There seems to be a consistent message in the media comments made by those opposed to photo speed enforcement. They want you to vote “yes” to eliminating it! Their suggestion is that the RCMP and Community Peace Officers fill the void left by the removal of photo speed enforcement. What would this mean for the residents of Morinville? Who better to ask than our local Experts on this subject matter.
1. Can the Morinville RCMP detachment fill the ‘void’ if photo speed enforcement is removed?
“No, Morinville RCMP detachment does not have a Traffic Unit. We are a general duty detachment. Our resources are fully engaged. In order to provide supplementary traffic enforcement, we would require additional members for that role and additional members are not available.” – Sgt. Mathias, current RCMP Detachment Commander.
2. How OR will the same degree of enforcement be maintained?
“In order to maintain the same degree of enforcement (should photo speed enforcement by contractor be removed) the town would require at least two Community Peace Officers dedicated exclusively to speed enforcement as well as a clerk to be devoted exclusively to the administration of the generated violation tickets.” – Director of Corporate Operations
*Two is the minimum number of officers that it would take to come close to maintaining the average of 500 tickets per month.
As residents we also need to consider the following:
• If the Town hires more officers, will their collected enforcement revenue cover the costs for the officers?
• Will their collected enforcement revenue have EXCESS funds available to be allocated to Traffic Safety Initiatives or to pay down the debt for the Community Cultural Centre?
• If not, what will the alternatives be for residents/taxpayers – increased taxes?
• If the town does not hire more officers, are residents/taxpayers WILLING to accept LESS traffic enforcement? (the current officers are already fully engaged).
FACT – PHOTO ENFORCEMENT LOCATIONS NOT BASED ON WHERE COLLISIONS HAVE OCCURRED.
It is important to remember that Morinville’s photo enforcement program is ONE component of the overall traffic safety program and locations are NOT based on where collisions have occurred. For those that are ‘well versed’ on the Alberta Traffic Enforcement Guidelines, it is common knowledge that “Traffic Safety Criteria” or “high risk areas” for photo enforcement locations are determined and based on ANY of the Site Section Criteria that is indicated in those guidelines.
Most collisions are more typically intersection related and need to be enforced differently. Red light and Stop sign cameras would be an option. In the last six months, Morinville has had five pedestrian/vehicle incidents at the 100th & 100th traffic lights. A Red Light Camera is a “tool” that would help to assist with intersection traffic enforcement and it has been proven to reduce intersection incidents in the region.
The fact is, photo enforcement is an important “traffic safety tool” and it is meant to enhance overall traffic enforcement. It is NOT intended to “replace” RCMP or CPO enforcement, or to imply that human enforcement is no longer needed. Perhaps the individuals who frequent the comment section of the local media should have taken the opportunity to speak with the Contractor on how the equipment works, the Director of Corporate Operations, the Community Peace Officers, Supervisor AND the Morinville RCMP Staff Sergeant or Sergeant, who sit on the Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee, and were available at the Photo Enforcement Open House. They are some of the experts on this subject matter and they would have responded with FACTS to questions/concerns and dispelled any misconceptions some might have.
The majority of residents do comply with speed limits as evidenced by photo speed enforcement data. Average speeds in town have been reduced and that directly impacts the severity of collisions and injuries. There is a significant difference between the stopping distance at 30km/hr and the stopping distance at 50km/hr and that FACT could be the difference between life and death. PERIOD.
Where do we get this information? We are public members at large on the Town’s T.A.C. and we have made our own contacts with subject matter experts in the RCMP, ITS, C.R.I.S.P, other municipalities using photo enforcement and the Alberta Transportation Office of Traffic Safety, to name a few. We have reviewed the Traffic Safety Act and other related Provincial Statutes as well as the Province’s Automated Traffic Enforcement Guidelines. We have explored and researched from various scholarly sources such as the studies of various Transportation Safety Institutes, Universities such as Monash, U of A, the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, Transafety, Accident Analysis & Prevention, and the Inter. Assoc. of Chiefs of Police, to name a few.
A retired traffic law enforcement officer with over 30 years of service wrote to us and stated, “… I hope that you continue to advocate for photo enforcement in Morinville. I believe that we need more photo enforcement, not less…. This is not a question of ethics on the part of the enforcement officers. It is really a question of the ethics of the motoring public and whether they respect the law and the safety of every other road user. Every driver knows or should know what the speed limit is… Hopefully our new council will recognize that this program has a positive effect on public safety… This is or should be very simple, if you do not speed, you do not get a ticket.” Now that’s hitting the nail square on the head!
Keith Norris and Charmaine Enns