Photo radar program extended indefinitely

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Photo radar program extended indefinitely

Saskatchewan Government Insurance is extending its photo radar speed enforcement pilot project indefinitely. 

Cameras were set up to catch traffic violators on five major road sections in the province in late 2014 and early 2015, as well as school zones in Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Regina.

The pilot project was supposed to come to an end March 8, but it's since been extended while SGI crunches the numbers and figures out how to move forward.

"We're just working on the evaluation, but preliminary results seem to show that it is slowing people down," said Shannon Ell, director of traffic safety promotion at SGI.

The idea was to try to improve safety and have fewer violations in high speed and high traffic volume locations, where SGI deemed it dangerous to have officers on the side of the road.   

The minister for SGI said last April the numbers were already showing an improvement a little over a year after the program was introduced. 

Ell said SGI is happy with some recent data that's come back. 

For the month of January, Ell said the overall rate of traffic violations was less than one per cent across the board — meeting the project's goal for the first time since it was created.  

By the numbers 

While SGI is still crunching the data, numbers already released show a decline in the number of violations in some key areas since the program's inception. 

In Regina, Ell identified school zones as a problem area for violations. 

However, the number of speeders caught on camera in Regina school zones has been decreasing steadily in the month of January since the program started:

- January 2015: 3,493 violations.

- January 2016: 1,811 violations.

- January 2017: 457 violations.

The number of violations caught on the Ring Road in Regina has also seen a decrease, with the percentage of vehicles in violation going down year-to-year. 

- January 2015: 0.38 per cent.

- January 2016: 0.14 per cent.

- January 2017: 0.12 per cent.

Support from cities

City representatives from Saskatoon and Moose Jaw have so far come out in favour of the photo radar system. 

Saskatoon's standing policy committee on transportation is recommending the city continues to partner with SGI for the photo radar program. 

It suggests the city requests a two-year extension. The recommendation is being discussed Monday afternoon. 

Moose Jaw Mayor Fraser Tolmie also wants the program to continue. He said it's a good one.

"It has slowed a lot of traffic down in some high volume areas, especially around school zones, so I think it's an important program to stick with," he said. 

Tolmie said he'd like to see the program continue or even expand in his city, depending on SGI's evaluations.  

A report passed by Moose Jaw's budget committee in February recommended the city continue supporting the photo radar program.  

The report said that Moose Jaw is generating approximately $600,000 per year in revenue from photo radar ticketing.

To date, it has generated $2 million, with expenses just over $1 million.  

Moose Jaw has two cameras along Highway 1 at 9th Avenue N.W. and at two school zones.

The report said so long as targets for reducing speed and improving road safety continue to be met by the project and it's at least breaking even, it should be continued.

So far the revenue is being used for new traffic safety officers, pavement markings, signs, pedestrian crossings and traffic calming measures.

Moving forward  

Ell said it should take a couple of months for SGI to complete its evaluation. 

The insurance company will be looking at whether the cameras are slowing people down, reducing crashes, and whether the program should be expanded. 

Then, it will take its findings to the provincial government.