Show me the numbers!
That’s the approach taken by Edmonton’s Office of Traffic Safety when it comes to choosing locations for automated photo enforcement, aka photo radar. It’s all about using evidence to make decisions.
That’s why photo radar is used where conventional enforcement would not be safe (such as high-speed arterial roads), at intersections and other locations with a high rate of collisions, in construction and school zones, and locations where a member of the public has expressed a concern about speeding.
Edmonton’s Office of Traffic Safety uses a process known as the “speed management continuum” to decide which anti-speeding measures should be taken.
Here’s how it works:
A speeding complaint comes in through 311, Twitter, a city councillor, the police, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. More than 500 Edmontonians have made such complaints so far this year.
OTS checks to see if previous complaints have been made at that location and if so, what was done. If we suspect a bigger problem, we do a speed survey in which the traffic is analyzed for a week, looking at everything from the kind and number of vehicles, top speeds, average speeds, incidents of tailgating, and so on. We also review three years’ worth of collision statistics at the location.
If the numbers show there’s just a minor problem, OTS will set up community signs to remind drivers to slow down. We may even set up one of those speed display trailers that tells drivers how fast they are going as they drive by.
If it looks like there’s a more serious speeding problem, then OTS requests approval from the Edmonton Police Service for the creation of a new automated enforcement site. All such sites are listed online. In general, when a new site is established, advisory signs are posted to remind drivers of the speed limit. Digital speed trailers will be put in place for two weeks before enforcement begins.
When possible, the enforcement is done from a marked community van so that drivers know what’s going on. It’s sporadic so that an individual driver doesn’t get caught multiple times within a short period of time. And the tickets are sent out within six business days so that speeders get the message and can correct their behavior as quickly as possible. An education insert all about how speed contributes to the occurrence and severity of collisions is included with each ticket.
The next step in the continuum is to make the location a regular site for photo enforcement, using a community van, an unmarked vehicle, or a vehicle with City of Edmonton markings on it.
If there’s a key intersection in the problem area, an Intersection Safety Camera can be installed. There are 48 so far in the city.
The last steps in the continuum are manned police enforcement and “cost recovery enforcement”, which involves paying police to enforce speed violations in a specific trouble area and using the fines levied to pay the officers.
Data about the number of speed violations, average speeds, complaints, and collisions are constantly reviewed so that we can make Edmonton’s streets safer for all road users.