Earlier this week, the provincial government announced they will put a temporary freeze on new photo radar devices as they consult with municipalities and police on the future of photo radar.
AUMA members may recall that this is the second provincial photo radar review to happen in 2019. The previous review in February of this year resulted in a report that found photo radar can be statistically attributed with reducing collisions by 1.4%, and reducing the proportion of fatal collisions by 5.3%.
Safety is the priority for municipalities
Our position remains the same: because safety is of the most importance, AUMA supports the use of photo radar based on research showing that it helps decrease motor vehicle collisions, which reduces injuries, fatalities, and property damage. We know that municipalities recognize that photo radar is only one tool of many to promote traffic safety.
Photo radar is an effective tool, not a cash grab
We were surprised to hear that the provincial government is still referring to this as a cash cow, since they just announced that as of 2020, they will take 40% of the fines and penalties arising from traffic violations. (They were previously taking 26.7%.) This is a reduction of $37 million per year to municipal revenue.
Reliance on traffic safety as a revenue stream is highly variable across municipalities. Only 27 out of Alberta’s 352 municipalities use photo radar (8%). Many municipalities who do use photo radar, like the City of Edmonton, reinvest those revenues back into policing and traffic and community safety initiatives.
Additionally, photo radar revenue, even for the municipalities with the highest photo radar revenue, does not make up a significant portion of any municipal budget. To paint municipalities as reliant on this revenue is not accurate.
Traffic safety, insurance rates and accountability
Municipalities that use photo radar know that sometimes it’s the best, safest option. Photo radar is often used at high-risk locations where the safety of citizens or police officers or peace officers would be at risk through conventional enforcement methods.
Traffic safety measures and enforcement (such as photo radar) also have a role to play in keeping insurance rates down and encouraging safer behavior on our roads.
Provincial and municipal governments both share responsibility for keeping Albertans safe and cultivating positive traffic safety culture. We look forward to consulting with the province over the next 24 months about how we can continue to reduce fatalities and injuries resulting from speeding.
Visit our website for more information about our policing advocacy, including our response to the February 2019 photo radar review.