Transportation minister calls photo radar a 'cash cow'
The Alberta government is taking steps to ensure photo radar is no longer being used as a revenue-generating tool.
“Photo radar operations must contribute to significant traffic safety outcomes, like reducing collisions and saving lives,” said Transportation Minister Brian Mason.
The transportation minister released the results of a study on Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) in the province on Thursday.
According to the report, Alberta has the greatest “intensity” of ATE use. Despite that, collision rates have decreased at similar levels to other jurisdictions.
The report shows a small contribution to traffic safety including a 1.4 per cent overall reduction in collisions and 5.3 per cent reduction in serious or fatal crashes.
“Although the impact on safety was relatively small, it was real. The conclusion that I drew from that is that if it’s not being deployed right now to maximize safety, we could probably get even better outcomes if we insisted that it be done in that way,” said Mason.
It also suggests more data is required from municipalities to justify the use of photo radar and how it contributes to safety.
As a result, the government will implement changes to ATE use in Alberta.
“We are updating the provincial photo radar guidelines to provide the direction and clarity that municipalities and police agencies need in order to focus on safety,” Mason said.
Changes include prohibiting the use of photo radar on high-speed multi-lane roads, unless there is a documented traffic safety issue.
“If you want to put photo radar in a place to improve safety and you can show over time that you’re accomplishing that goal, fill your boots. I won’t stand in your way. But if you can’t show that, and if it turns out that in fact you’re just raking in the dough, not allowed.”
It is also prohibited in transition zones and municipalities will be required to post information about photo radar locations and rationale each month.
Traditional traffic enforcement is still allowed in places where ATE is not.
“Conventional speed enforcement, that is there’s a cop behind a radar gun, we’re not touching that, they can put that anywhere they want,” Mason said.
Radar is also allowed in school, playground and construction zones.
The new guidelines take effect on June 1, but Mason said the speed traps or “fishing holes” likely won’t disappear immediately. The government will work with municipalities and police agencies over the next year.
“We will be working with them to track the effectiveness of their locations and where their locations maybe don’t improve traffic safety very much, but generate a lot of revenue we’re going to tell them to stop.”