February 7, 2018

Getting Revenue and Making the Province's Streets Safer~Should Photo Radar Make a Comeback?

Besides the media flurry on the new Liberal leader of the Ten Lane Massey Bridge party, there has been discouraging information coming out about ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. This is a provincial Crown corporation established in 1973 to provide universal auto insurance to motorists in this province. It was cutting edge at the time, and responsible for driver and vehicle licensing and registration.
Unfortunately it also appears that some of its profits did not stay with the Corporation, and you can find out more about its governance here. There’s been some finger-pointing on how these losses happened, and a suggestion of limiting the awards of some injuries to mitigate these losses. But a retired Police Chief for the City of Delta Jim Cessford has come up with a proposal to save lives and to save money for the Crown Corporation~bring back photo radar. Why? Because when people know they are being watched, they drive more carefully. “We had it in Edmonton when I was with Edmonton Police. And we found that there was a dramatic decrease in the number of collisions, as a result of photo radar. I know that there’s this whole notion that ‘It’s cash grab.’ Well, that’s true. Obviously, there are funds that are realized as a result of photo radar. That’s a side issue. The real issue is saving lives and we believe that photo radar did save lives.”
British Columbia did have photo radar which was implemented by the provincial  NDP government in 1996. It generated 2.3 million dollars in the year 2000. In 2001 the incoming provincial Liberal government did away with photo radar, instead saying they would rely on traditional policing methods. At the time it was estimated to cost the government 6 million dollars to phase out the program.
Attorney General David Eby has also suggested that red light cameras be set up across the province. But if lowering speeds means that lives are saved, shouldn’t photo radar be considered too? A study on the Economic Impacts of Photo Radar in British Columbia undertaken in 2006 revealed “an annual net benefit of approximately 114 million in year 2001 Canadian dollars to British Columbians. The study also finds a net annual saving of over 38 million Canadian dollars for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) that funded the program..Automated photo radar traffic safety enforcement can be an effective and efficient means to manage traffic speed, reduce collisions and injuries, and combat the huge resulting economic burden to society… Every effort should be made to focus on and to promote the program on safety improvement grounds. The program can be easily terminated because of political considerations, if the public perceives it as a cash cow to enhance government revenue.”


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