Letter: Ask the experts

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

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6 Comments

  1. Orrrrrr. Instead of asking people to take their kids, plan their schedule, and go down to talk to Town of Morinville employees (who get part of their their funding from photo radar), these employees could just write a letter with the statistics of the SAFETY benefit of photo radar.

    Things like ‘reduction in accidents’, ‘reduction in collision costs’, or ‘reduction in injuries’ that have happened in the town of Morinville since photo radar started. Can’t we stop talking about revenue for 2 minutes??

    You say that most accidents and injuries happen at intersections, and then say photo radar isn’t a good tool to use for those.

    You also say that 2 CPOs are needed to achieve the same amount of revenue. Ill go with your numbers We currently generate around $470,000 from photo tickets (~$208,000 given to a third party contractor). Seems like we should be able to hire 2 CPOs for that amount, and then hire another one to improve intersection collisions. Win win, yes?

    Let’s look at who is talking about safety and who is talking about revenue.

  2. Again, another article specifically pointing at a loss of revenue should the people vote yes and say no to photo radar. Over and over again people have been commenting about wanting better enforcement of intersections where there has been a high volume of pedestrian injuries due to drivers making turns when unsafe to do so, or failing to yield right of way to pedestrian. Photo enforcement does nothing to remedy this. Why is it so important to put a “QUOTA” out there and say that we must give out 500 tickets a month. It’s getting more and more blatant that the only reason you are in favor of photo Radar is for the revenue it generates and not for the Safety of our community. If I’m doing my math right, first year of photo enforcement, 8100 tickets issued, the town officials brag that the next year something like 5500, and following that 3600, using these numbers to say that photo enforcement is working and that people are slowing down. now, last year 5100 tickets issued and now you set a target for 6000 this year. Just shows what a complete failure photo enforcement is. I have been doing research, and some of my finding have been quite enlightening. Transition zones are engineered in the placing of signs, 30 meters for a 50 to 30 transition, and vice versa. Simple internet search using key words Traffic Sign Placement Alberta, will enlighten those of you who like hard facts. I found one on school zones you might find very interesting. Tolerances on vehicle speedometers are measured by manufacturers to be plus or minus 10%, law enforcement agencies around the world will add an extra 2 kph just to ensure that yes, the driver knows he’s speeding. I could go on and on with fact after fact, and will still have my opinion fall on deaf ears because money is of greater importance then the safety of our community. Last point, I don’t expect our RCMP officers to fill in the void left by Photo enforcement, as there should be no void in the first place. Speeding is not the only infraction in the traffic act, or rules of the road, if we put jut 1/10th of the effort we put into stopping speeders to cover all infractions in the traffic act, you would see a dramatic decrease in collisions. I think it could be accomplished quite easily by that bylaw officer who goes around on a rainy day telling us we need to trim the grass from our cracked town sidewalks.

  3. # 1 – Why was photo radar brought in to Morinville in the first place? Because of the numerous accidents and injuries? No, because the mayor and council of the day saw a way to pay for a building that, in the long run, is empty 5 out of 7 days per week, without raising taxes. Now, council is running scared because if this photo radar is squashed, the taxpayers will be on the hook for this empty building! Therefore, go the trade show and hear the town managers spew the benefits of photo radar and how the taxpayers will SUFFER higher taxes if it is removed. This is called intimidation! It should never be used by a government on its citizens! The community center should NEVER have been built until we ( the town of Morinville) had solid funding in place to pay for it! Photo radar is a very useful tool where justified, however, in Morinville, it is abused. The traffic safety committee in Morinville should be ashamed for being led by the nose by the town and by the photo radar contractor! The traffic safety committee’s only mandate should be the safety of the residents of Morinville. Stay out of the politics!

  4. How about this, if Photo Radar (and all the revenue it generates) is voted down, then the Town should look at unloading the MCCC onto the Catholic School Board, since it’s already on their property. Then the School could renovate it into useable classroom space and expand as that was the original intention for that land. It would cost initally, and agreements of debt would have to be negotiated, but in the end the “Town” would be out from under that tax eating blunder that ignorance built.

  5. Thank-you Keith and Charmaine for volunteering your time on the Traffic Safety Committee. It appears the rest of the commenters here want to just talk while you are both working to make Morinville safer. I will be supporting photo radar.

  6. “A Royal Commission on ‘Motorcars’ in the UK reported in 1907 raised concern about the manner in which speed traps were being used to raise revenue in rural areas rather than being used to protect lives in towns. In parliamentary debates at the time it was observed that “Policemen are not stationed in the villages where there are people about who might be in danger, but are hidden in hedges or ditches by the side of the most open roads in the country”, “In my opinion they are manifestly absurd as a protection to the public, and they are used in many counties merely as a means of extracting money from the passing traveller in a way which reminds one of the highwaymen of the Middle Ages”. a comment word for word from Wikipedia, 107 years and we still fight the same debate. In my quest for the truth, I look at both sides. Those of you who have read my comments in the past few weeks, know that I have put a lot of research into what I say. I’ve looked at the C.R.I.S.P. brochure, and notice that of all the area with the most pedestrian fatalities, Edmonton at 24, are the areas which have generated the most revenue from Photo enforcement, reported last year at 42 million. If the Traffic Safety Committee has really completed all the research they claim to have done, they would know that the best methods to improve safety on our streets is education. It seems to be a common misconception that if a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle, the driver of the motor vehicle is automatically at fault. In a previous comment I entered, I brought forward these statistics from Transportation Alberta for 2012:
    Total pedestrians Killed in Alberta – 47
    Total Pedestrians Injured in Alberta – 1162
    Of these totals:
    35.4% Had Driver driving Properly
    40.7% Had driver failing to yield right of way to pedestrian
    20.6% Had non speed related infractions
    4.3% listed as other and cannot be confirmed if speed was a factor or not
    If I am not mistaken, the primary reason the traffic safety committee is so pro photo enforcement is to protect our pedestrian, especially our children. These statistics were derived by the RCMP from accident report data they themselves gathered.
    I was at one time an active member of the Morinville COP, and was one of the members who brought the first speed board to Morinville, at that time it was to be used as a tool to let us know how fast traffic was. For those who live in neighbourhoods who think they have a speed problem, call up the Morinville COP and see if they can send out a few volunteers to check out the problem. Or better yet, maybe you should get involved yourself. Safety starts with you, not some poor person sitting in a photo enforcement van with a 500 ticket per month quota.

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