Ontario’s new government has just announced it is considering bringing back photo radar to catch speeding drivers. According to the Canada Safety Council, electronic enforcement is a proven, cost-effective way to reduce speeding violations – and most Ontarians want it.
In August 2003, the Canada Safety Council commissioned a survey to find out how Canadians feel about traditional traffic enforcement and how receptive they are to the use of high tech devices to enforce traffic laws. The survey found that Canadians are very positive about traffic enforcement by police. Fifty-five per cent felt the current level is about right. A further 35 per cent said they’d like to see more. Only nine per cent felt there was too much.
"There’s no substitute for strong police visibility in problem areas," says Canada Safety Council president Emile Therien. "But the police can’t be everywhere." That’s where electronic enforcement comes in. Cameras, instead of police, identify vehicles that are breaking the speed limit. The owner of the offending vehicle is fined but no points are assigned to anyone’s driving record. Therien says that one out of every six fatal collisions involves speeding, but it can be very dangerous for police to chase speeders on busy highways. The survey found that 66 per cent of Ontarians support photo radar on the highway. When asked if there should be warning signs to advise of the possible presence of photo enforcement 68 per cent said yes.
A standard sign for photo enforcement is supposed to be installed along roads where cameras may be present. When drivers know they could be caught if they speed, fewer choose to break the law , thus making the road safer. The real purpose is not to catch people breaking the law, explains Therien. It’s to stop them from offending in the first place. The measure should not be how many offenders are caught or how much is paid in fines but rather the decrease in offences and collisions. He says public support for all forms of photo enforcement is strong across Canada. These devices improve traffic safety without increasing overall costs if they are properly implemented. A serious car crash can happen simply because a driver breaks the law and people are far less likely to break the law when they know they’ll be caught.
Decima teleVox interviewed 2,003 adult Canadians between August 14 and 28, 2003. When speaking nationally, these results are accurate to within +/-2.2 percent at a 95 per cent level of confidence.
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