By Carla Howatt
After a grueling three hours of discussion, Strathcona County Council voted 5-4 in favour of stopping all photo radar as of Sept. 1, 2012.
Ward 3 Councillor Brian Botterill brought the motion forward and gave a short presentation. His research showed an estimated 20 per cent of injury crashes are reported to involve distracted driving, 13.4 per cent involve non-licensed drivers and 32 per cent of all fatal collisions in the US are caused by drinking and driving. Botterill said none of these causes can be dealt with by photo radar.
“For me, one of the most positive things to come out of these three hours, is the recognition by some that the volume of tickets does not equal safety,” Botterill said.
Councillor Botterill wasn’t surprised by the results of the vote but says he doesn’t believe there is going to be that kind of split within the Strathcona County population.
“I have gotten more calls on this issue than all other issues combined,” he explained. “Generally, the calls were a huge outpouring of support.”
He said some of the callers felt it was an unfair taxing of otherwise safe drivers.
The rookie Councillor said if the County wants to target areas where it is dangerous for manned officers, a simple and proven method is to use speed boards to notify drivers of their speed.
Studies in Strathcona County have found that on average 72 per cent of motorists self-correct once they see a notification of their speed.
The second part of Botterill’s motion involved hiring five addition enforcement officers to not only replace photo radar, but to further increase safety by being able to target unlicensed drivers, drunk drivers and distracted driving.
Much of Council’s discussion revolved around the fact that the delay experienced in receiving a photo radar ticket in the mail, and the fact that drivers do not receive any demerit points from them, had a negative impact on their effectiveness.
He says he was surprised when he started his research and learned that the best information was not on the anti-radar websites, but the pro-safety websites. That is where he found out what was causing collisions.
“Speed may be a factor in the severity of an accident,” he said. “But if we can prevent the accident in the first place, we are better off.”