Food for thought at traffic conference

Maybe you are one of the people that helped to make Edmonton’s March 16 to 18 International Conference on Urban Traffic Safety possible.

Maybe you are one of the people that helped to make Edmonton’s March 16 to 18 International Conference on Urban Traffic Safety possible.

Many of the world’s leading traffic experts were there to share their knowledge about making our roads safer.

There were three workshops during the first day of the conference: a full-day event about roadway engineering and two half-day sessions on effective law enforcement and on mobilizing the community.

The highlight of the conference occurred during the official opening late that afternoon.

As part of Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel’s welcoming address, the mayor presented a $1.5-million cheque to President Samarasekera of the University of Alberta.

The money from the cheque will be used by the U of A to create a new position, the Chair of Traffic Safety, in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The person selected for that position will study driver behaviour, signage and road design in a bid to improve road safety.

The university is planning to fill the position by autumn.

Day two sessions included the identification of high collision locations, the cost-benefit analysis of road safety programs, and an address on traffic safety culture that discussed why casualty collisions don’t receive the same attention as other public health problems.

Day three topics included red light camera and photo radar enforcement, also some aspects of driver limitations in vision, agility and attentiveness that must be considered when designing roadways.

The presentation on red light cameras and photo radar included recent Edmonton results.

Red light camera results there show that total collisions reduced by 11 per cent with each of four collision categories (casualty, property damage only, angle and rear-end) decreasing between six per cent and 17 per cent. According to photo radar, around 2.5 per cent of vehicles exceed the speed limit enough to trigger the camera.

Of those, about 70 per cent result in an infraction ticket being mailed to the vehicle owner.

Most of the conference attendees were from the City of Edmonton, the Government of Alberta, and the University of Alberta.

Several near and distant Alberta municipalities, including Strathcona County and Canmore, had people at the conference.

During the conference closing session, Gerry Shimko, executive director of Edmonton City’s Office of Traffic Safety, indicated that Edmonton’s second international Conference on Urban Traffic Safety may take place next year.

If the person selected for the chair of traffic safety and the presenters at that conference are similar to the calibre of experts this year, it will be well worth attending.

The new position at the University of Alberta, the chair of traffic safety, is being funded by the revenues from Edmonton’s red light cameras and photo radar installations.

Consequently, any person that has received a photo of their vehicle as a result of how it was driven in Edmonton has helped to make the Conference possible.

In view of Edmonton’s interest in reducing collision rates and severities in their city, and in view of the demonstrated effectiveness of red light cameras and photo radar in reducing collision rates and severities, electronic enforcement devices could be anywhere in the Edmonton road system.

So drive as well as you can in Edmonton.

Ditto for driving in Red Deer.

Doug Taylor heads the LEA DRS Program, a cost-of-service Red Deer initiative for improving safety on public roads. You can contact Doug by telephone at (403) 342-2765, by email at, or through the website at

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