The Office of the City Auditor has just posted its review of one of Edmonton’s most important traffic safety tools: Automated Photo Enforcement.
From a public safety perspective, the headline is on page 13 and it’s great news for Edmontonians: The number of collisions that cause injuries and fatalities is going down, way down. Back in 2007, there were 7.44 such collisions per 1000 Edmontonians. Last year that number was 3.89 per 1000 people.
Put that together with the information gleaned from a recent cost of collisions study for the Edmonton area and you can see how the strategy isn’t only saving lives, it’s saving money too. It shows that the price tag for collisions in the Capital Region is more than $1 billion each year.
Another fact revealed by the auditor’s report is how few of us actually get tickets. Of more than 360 million vehicles that were monitored by automated enforcement equipment in 20 months, only 476 thousand tickets were issued… that’s just 0.13%. The number of tickets issued to people who were obeying the law was zero.
The goal of the Auditor’s review was to assess the City’s strategy of taking over the enforcement role from the private company that used to administer the program. One of those measures is cost savings. The review shows that while the cost for the city-run program is higher than predicted back in 2007, it is not costing taxpayers extra money because the fines collected cover it. In fact, the review shows we are getting more efficient every year. The cost per ticket has gone from $17.09 in 2008 to $10.71 in 2013.
The ultimate goal with automated photo enforcement is to collect no money at all, because that would mean that Edmontonians had quit endangering each other by speeding. In the meantime, Mayor and Council have directed that any money collected from automated enforcement tickets that is not needed to run the program should be spent on traffic safety. One of the first projects is the new 30 km/h school zones around Edmonton elementary schools, an initiative that is making our streets safer for our most vulnerable citizens: Children.