(Advocate file photo).

Photo radar continues to be a thorny issue in Red Deer

Auditor says Red Deer’s use of photo radar is high

More than 88 per cent of speeding tickets given to Red Deer motorists come from photo radar — a “very high” number, an auditor concluded.

While the province does not suggest what the ratio should be of photo radar tickets versus ones written up by a police officer, it does state that 100 per cent of tickets should not come from an automated traffic enforcement device.

City council was presented with this information on Monday as part of a review of the city’s Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) Policy.

Protective Services director Paul Goranson said the audit was done in 2017, before the city adapted four red-light cameras to also catch motorists speeding through intersections in green lights.

He admitted the 88 per cent is likely even higher.

But Goranson believes this doesn’t give a true picture, since other types of traffic tickets — such as police officers writing someone up for having a broken tail light — were not considered in the comparison.

While the auditor called Red Deer’s photo radar program”well run,” no information was provided about what average ratio of photo-radar to conventional tickets is among Alberta municipalities.

Goranson expects this information might come out of a provincial review, now underway.

Meanwhile, photo radar continues to be a thorny local issue. Coun. Tanya Handley and Vesna Higham spoke of being contacted by city residents with complaints.

Coun. Buck Buchanan, a former RCMP officer, expressed personal doubts about photo radar. He was the sole councillor to vote against even updating the city policy on ATE on Monday, saying he is skeptical the program is a safety measure rather than a cash grab.

Most councillors accepted that it helps decrease traffic accidents and fatalities, and generally improves safety.

Higham pointed out that the primary focus of Red Deer’s ATE is in school and playground zones.

A report compiled in 2015 found left-hand turns and right angle collisions were reduced by more than half in Red Deer in a comparison of traffic data from 2011 and 1999 — before ATE was introduced to the city. Rear-end collision were cut by seven per cent.

Red Deer began using a photo radar and red light cameras in 2000. In 2017, council approved technology that adapted red light cameras to also catch motorists speeding through green lights.

Goranson said four of these cameras are moved throughout the city, as needed. The public are informed with signs posted at intersections, and also through monthly location releases to the media.


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