Photo Radar – Making Evidence Based Decisions

Photo radar is a divisive issue. Some argue that it is being used just to generate revenue and some will argue that if you don’t want to get a speeding ticket, all you have to do is follow the speed limit. Prior to me having the opportunity to serve on Council, I fell in the latter category. But I realized that while that might be an acceptable personal opinion, it’s not fair to rely on that as the only reason to either support or oppose its use. Ideally, we want to be using data and research to make evidence-based decisions.

In November 2014 we had a researcher from the U of A attend a meeting to share data that proved we saw a reduction in serious and injury collisions in the locations where photo radar was being used. There was a specific example provided on the southwest portion of the Henday where we saw a 33% reduction in serious and injury collisions. That example stayed with me and it was one of many evidence-based reasons that I felt could help me explain why I supported photo radar.

One year after that conversation I asked if we would be able to make an interactive map available on the City website where we could post every location we use photo radar and the specific impacts it has at that location. Having a location by location analysis would allow everyone to see the impact for themselves. And if by chance we had a location where we there wasn’t a proven impact to safety, we should use different tools to address safety concerns. At that meeting I was informed it would be possible to have that interactive resource.

A few years passed and it hadn’t been released and with the previous provincial government completing a province-wide review of photo radar, I thought it was worth revisiting this topic to find out the status of that work. I feel that by getting a location by location breakdown will allow supporters and non-supporters to fully understand the impacts of this specific tool.

With that in mind I made the following inquiry at last week’s City Council meeting:

“Council was previously informed that Traffic Safety was working on a visual representation (ex: interactive map) that would allow someone to view the specific safety impacts of photo radar at each location where it is used across the city. From what I understand that work is still ongoing. Can Administration provide a report on the following:

1) The status of the work and expected completion date.
2) What information will be able to be viewed by the public.
3) If the information will included on Edmonton’s Open Data Portal.”

Even if you are the person who fully supports the use of photo radar, having a resource where any person can view the impact of this tool at each location is something that we will all benefit from. It will either reinforce the research that has already been shared or it help us decide to use a different traffic safety tool to address safety concerns in a particular location.

Once the report on this inquiry is released, I will share the results. Ideally we won’t have to wait much longer for the location by location breakdown as that is what will provide the most value. It will eliminate the opportunity for people to make assumptions about its use because we will have clear evidence one way or another that every person will have access to.

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