~ initially published 2016-09
It is a Cash Cow!
Photo radar is a hot topic in our town right now and I have to be honest, I feel it is simply an educational barrier that keeps me from agreeing with everyone. At first, I thought everyone was just richer than me and had money to burn but as I did more and more thinking about it, I think people are just responding to a logical request with an emotional response.
For the record, I believe photo radar is awesome. I hate getting the tickets in the mail but most of the ones that come to our house belong to my wife and daughter. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.
I hear people say things against it like “it is a cash cow”. I agree with you all… it is a cash cow. What is your problem with cash? People tell me all the time that the city just wants money and not to slow vehicles down. I disagree. They are balancing a priority of income generation and safety. If you want to increase safety, fight to bring photo radar management in house. Do you realize how much money we pay to some company to provide those photo radar units? I would be way more interested in taking control of the service than disbanding it. That extra money will allow us to expand traffic management into more areas and thus make more streets that much safer.
What about Road Safety?
I think photo radar is an excellent tax as it only affects the individuals who choose to pay it. It puts me, as a speeder, in the same category as someone who needs cigarettes or alcohol or gas. These things all have a high tax to directly charge the people smoking, drinking, and driving which is supposed to help offset the societal costs of health care for smokers and drinkers, air pollution, and road construction for drivers.
People who speed are not actually at fault for any costs to society so I totally understand that complaint, but unlike the other taxes, photo radar targets people actually violating a law. It is a small price to pay in my mind.
I do have one more problem with photo radar and that is with tagging people at the bottom of a hill on a road that has an artificially reduced speed limit. There are enough places where speeders are more than a nuisance that could have cameras. I am thinking of dangerous intersections, larger roads, school and playground zones, etc.
You can see my thoughts on our road speed limits in a previous post on traffic safety and speed limits.
EDIT: since this was originally published, Sherwood Park has brought back photo radar and the entire province has failed to learn anything from these experiences because they are now talking about eliminating photo radar province-wide.
Why Do So Many Disagree?
It bothered me that I disagreed with almost every other council candidate on this topic, but it is not the first time and likely won’t be the last. I have four main problems with getting rid of photo radar…
- It makes money. Getting rid of photo radar is like killing the golden goose. We live in a city with a ton of large capital projects on the horizon. Losing this revenue will hurt us as a city.
- It will cost a fortune to remove it. Unless we are just going to let people speed like they do in Vancouver, Toronto, and LA, we will need to hire several more police officers at a cost of hundreds of thousands a year just to write speeding tickets to get a fraction of that revenue back.
- The current laws allow insurance companies to brazenly steal from those who get speeding tickets. Getting a second speeding ticket can raise your insurance by 15% and a third one could hit you for another 25%. That’s right, a youth trying to start a new life just saw their auto insurance go from $2000 a year to $2900 a year for the next four years. That third ticket says it cost $157 but it actually cost $2457 over the next four years. That is state-sanctioned theft as far as I am concerned. Because photo radar doesn’t apply to the driver but the registered owner of the vehicle, insurance companies can’t stick you with monstrous fees on photo radar tickets.
- It works. People tell me all the time that photo radar doesn’t slow people down. They are wrong. It slows me down all the time. Chris Jardine said, “For anyone not sure if Photo Radar is an effective tool to help curb speeding you should go and drive in BC. BC legislated Photo Radar out about 10 years ago and now if you don’t drive 30% over the speed limit you feel like an impediment. It’s fine to say put more officers on the street, but as good as they are they can not operate as efficiently as the photo radar technology”
Before you tell me that it only slows down drivers at a tree or overpass they hide on and then they speed back up, I want you to consider your logic. I hear this a lot actually and it stuns me every time. You tell me that it doesn’t slow drivers down because they only slow down at known radar locations. By your very definition of the problem, we should not be getting rid of photo radar but adding it to every intersection and long straight away that we can.
Rather than taking revenue from the city, adding costs to the city, and increasing insurance costs to residents, why don’t the people who want to get rid of photo radar simply slow down, and let the rest of the citizens that enjoy the benefits to our city, and are willing to pay the occasional $157 ticket, keep paying their taxes how they choose?