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FCP Policy on Non-Red Light Photo Radar


1. No proposed changes to intersection and red light cameras
2. Implement a full ban on non-red light photo radar cameras, and mobile speed enforcement
devices

Summary
According to the City of Edmonton, in 2017 70.2% of injury-related collisions happened at intersections.1
There does exist significant research to show that when red light intersection cameras are clearly visible
and marked drivers will positively modify their behaviour. The FCP believes there is a benefit to keeping
this as is, but we suggest instituting stronger provincial rules on signage and guidelines around where
these devices should be located.

In relation to non-red light speed enforcement, there is not enough significant data to prove with any
level of certainty that it has the same level of effect on driver behaviour, as compared to red light
intersection cameras. This is due to several factors:

1. Mobile speed enforcement units are often unmarked, hidden, or otherwise disguised. This
draws away from the immediate benefits of speed reduction, as seen with clearly marked red
light cameras.
2. Drivers are not immediately notified of their behaviour, in many cases motorists only find out
three weeks after the incident has occurred.
3. The frequency and overuse of photo radar has diminished the overall seriousness of the offence,
with many believing it is just another expense that goes along with driving in Alberta.

Successive Alberta governments have been unwilling to deal with or monitor this issue in part to do with
the large revenues that go hand in hand with overzealous enforcement. To date, there has been no
comprehensive or thorough review on the subject, and without the release of internal government data
it is impossible to accurately assess this problem.

Incidents like the ‘Hinton Honeypot’2, where the Town of Hinton brought in about $1.7 million in 2014,
with only three highway locations. This example highlights how this program is going unchecked and is
not necessarily being used as a safety tool. There are innumerable examples of this across the province,
and this is why a government issued review is necessary. While reviews have been completed at a
municipal level, they often rely on dated academic articles and other self-authoured reports.

Alberta is currently the most deregulated jurisdiction when it comes to provincial oversight on photo
radar, with only very vague guidelines3 on limitations of municipal photo radar powers.

1
https://www.edmonton.ca/transportation/traffic_safety/intersection-safety-cameras.aspx
2
https://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/david-staples-meet-the-hinton-honey-pot-king-of-alberta-
speed-traps
3
https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/e6334b81-feea-4435-87ec-4a0cf85382e8/resource/b43f0d67-851c-4c89-83bb-
7d2f0e0e904f/download/2014-automated-traffic-enforcement-technology-guidelines-sept-2014.pdf

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Other jurisdictions require the direct approval of a provincial oversight body to ensure these device are
being used and installed correctly. The result of simply allowing municipalities to place these devices
without oversight has resulted in the situation represented in graphic 1, where Alberta has more than 8
times the total national photo radar locations. Of exceptional note, Edmonton has 935 approved
enforcement locations alone.

Another large problem with the photo radar program is the strain put on the provincial judicial system.
Each ticket is managed and processed through the Provincial Court’s Traffic Division, which means court
space, crown prosecutors, clerks, cashiers, schedulers, police resources and judges are required to deal
with these fines. This becomes a substantial problem when you consider that Edmonton alone processes
roughly half a million tickets a year.4 Again, this is a situation where reviews are necessary to ensure the
program is working in the best interest of Albertans. It is hard to say without full government data on
how much this is costing the system, and how many cases the courts are dealing with in a given year.

From all levels of government there has been a complete lack of transparency on the issue of photo
radar. As it currently stands any type of thorough and comprehensive review on photo radar would cost
tens of thousands of dollars in FOIP and other administrative fees, to access the Ministry data as well as
the data for each individual municipality.

Non-red light photo radar cameras are not serving their intended purpose of safety. This program is
being used as a cash-cow to line municipal coffers, and it is little more than a tax on Albertan drivers.
The overzealous use in municipalities, the unsubstantiated claims of safety, and the strains placed on
our judicial system are why the Freedom Conservative Party is calling for the immediate end of non-red
light photo radar cameras in Alberta. Revenue is not a sufficient reason to ignore a lack of proven
effectiveness and program oversight.

4
https://tpavlek.me/edmonton-photo-radar/

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Key Highlights
 Only 4 out of 10 provinces utilize photo radar
 Alberta allows Photo Radar to be placed on municipal roads, freeways, and city highways
 Edmonton alone has 935 approved photo radar locations
 Alberta is the only province without any provincial oversight body to check the validity of
placement

Devices Used in Alberta


1. Intersection Safety Device (Stationary Red Light & Speed Cameras)
2. Mobile Photo Radar
3. Mobile Photo LiDAR (Laser) (As of Sep 2016) ( Police Hand Held Units for Speed Traps )

No device limitations are set in Alberta. Meaning there is no standard, and devices such as cameras
disguised as utility boxes and other deceptive devices may be used.

The Numbers

Graphic 1 – Total approved photo radar locations by province.

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Alberta’s total approved photo radar locations is currently unknown, as each municipality is responsible
for their own program. Additionally, the Ministry of Justice has not made public the locations through
the Appendix ‘A’ of the Automated Enforcement guidelines. Currently a fair estimate is somewhere
around 2000 photo radar locations in the province.

Saskatchewan has only 28 approved photo radar locations.5

Manitoba and Quebec are both hovering around 100 photo radar locations in the entire province.

It is worth noting that in the cases of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec the locations are
predominately intersection red light cameras, with only a few construction and school zone mobile
enforcement units.

Graphic 2 – Edmonton’s Approved Enforcement Zones 20196

5
https://www.sgi.sk.ca/photo-speed-faqs
6
https://data.edmonton.ca/stories/s/All-Zones/8buu-mevt

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Cross-Provincial Comparison
Out of 10 provinces, only 4 have legislation permitting photo radar; they include: Alberta, Saskatchewan,
Manitoba, & Quebec.

Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba Quebec


Government To a large degree Photo radar is fully The Quebec’s photo
Alberta’s Photo provincially Municipality enforcement sites
Oversight radar laws have governed by the has the ability are governed by a
allowed for a highly Special Committee to place the Transportation
decentralized, on Traffic Safety of devices in the Safety Board, which
regional approach to the Legislative locations they includes various
photo Assembly. choose, cities.
implementation. province has
final say.
Each municipality
has been given the
opportunity to
create and operate
their own
automated ticket
enforcement
programs.

Fine All fines collected by All revenue goes to The fines are All revenue collected
the provincial the provincial set by a base goes into the High
Collection government, of government, which rate and fees Safety Fund, for use
which between 30 - then may be to the province determined by the
42 % of the fine goes distributed to the to cover court appointed board.
to the province, with municipalities. administration
the remainder being costs.
sent to the
municipality. On average
more than half
the total fee is
paid to the
province.

Devices There are guidelines, As determined by Allows for Provinces decide the
which are not the Special Municipalities devices used,
obligatory, no Committee on to use Photo through the Traffic
restriction on types Traffic Safety. Radar, and Safety Board.
of devices. defines terms
for what type
of units may
be used.

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