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While we rely on police forces to ensure the security and safety of citizens, we don’t think about what it like for police to stop or enforce speed limits on highways. Think of it~those police officers  are vulnerable road users without the protection of a vehicular steel cage flagging vehicles to pull over. Why are we using such a 19th century enforcement to maintaining speed limits and enhancing safety on our roads?

In June I wrote about the man with numbers, pollster Mario Canseco’s  findings that 58% of British Columbians say they would “definitely” or “probably” like to see the speed limit reduced to 30 km/h on all residential streets in their own municipality, while keeping the speed limit on arterial and collector roads at 50 km/h.”  That indicated that in our cities and towns we are willing to look at reduced speeds to enhance livability and quality of life in those places, as well as dramatically increase the survivability of pedestrians and cyclists involved in crashes. But how about speeding at intersections and major roads in British Columbia?

Last summer Mario Canseco’s Research Co. conducted another poll that showed that 70% of  people in British Columbia were  supportive of the use of a camera system  to enforce  speed limits in this province, and make intersections safer.

In the online survey of a representative sample of British Columbians, seven-in-ten residents (70%) approve of the use of speed-on-green cameras, or red light cameras that also capture vehicles that are speeding through intersections. Automated speed enforcement works by using cameras or sensors to pick up a vehicle speeding. A ticket is then issued to the owner of the vehicle. Driver’s license points are not issued as the driver of the vehicle cannot be identified.

Mario’s latest article in Business in Vancouver discusses the findings of the provincial government when it studied speed and crash statistics from 140 intersections which have red light cameras. What the government found is troubling~”The findings revealed that, during the course of an average week, 201 cars drive at least 30 km/h over the advertised speed limit.”

The provincial government is converting 35 existing  red light cameras to “speed-on-green” equipment to photograph vehicles at speed through intersections.While there are two cameras in Langley, three in Burnaby and seven in Surrey, there will be twelve in Vancouver.

The government’s approach is similar to that adopted by the City of Delta.

In Delta the Police Department announces that they are undertaking traffic enforcement via social media, and often will even have a reader board on the highway before vehicles arrive at the enforcement location. Despite the fact that vehicles are forewarned of enforcement,  many drivers ignore the warnings and are stopped for speeding.

The provincial government will be letting people know where these speed-on-green cameras are located with signage indicating that you are entering a photographed intersection. The Province has publicly notified that automated speed enforcement is coming for the past year. In a poll conducted last month Mario Canseco found that 68 percent (more than two-thirds) of people in the province are accepting of automated speed enforcement. Those numbers include 74 percent of all women and 76 percent of residents over the age of 55, which was consistent with poll findings from 2018. You can read the poll results here.

Of course there is a segment of people that just believe it is their right to go at whatever speed they prefer, and they are already challenging how much above the speed limit the government will tolerate in intersections. At some point it comes down to looking at the safety and security of not only vulnerable road users, but also how to mitigate crashes in a place that supports universal health care and vehicular insurance. Lowering speed, changing driver behaviour, and changing road design are the three main factors for safer streets.   As mentioned by Mario, a similar program in Saskatchewan “calmed speed and reduced collisions” and since 2018 is now a permanent program.

The YouTube video below describes the Vitronic-Poliscan intersection camera technology now in place in the Province of Saskatchewan.

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