Calgary police said an increase in tickets handed out to drivers who sped and ran red lights in 2015 is partly due to the “dream winter” experienced in the city, compared with past conditions.
“The weather is definitely a factor,” Insp. Ken Thrower said Monday. “When it’s minus 32 and the roads are all icy, the speeds are down a lot, in a lot of cases, way below the speed limits. So of course enforcement is going to be down.”
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That wasn’t the case for last year, which saw 388,458 tickets to drivers caught on camera running red lights or speeding. The largest increase was for tickets due to mobile photo radar units—a 47 per cent increase from 2014.
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On the other hand, the number of drivers caught by cameras installed at intersections decreased from the year before: speed-on-green tickets fell 16.6 per cent and tickets for running red lights decreased by 4.7 per cent.
In 2015, police netted $21.1 million in photo radar fines; $10 million for speed-on-green, $15 million for officer-issued summonses and $3.6 million for infractions caught on red light cameras. Over 40 per cent of that $49.7 million “goes to the province for victims,” Thrower said. The remaining 60 per cent goes to the base police budget.
“It’s determined by the police commission and executive how it’s dealt out,” Thrower said.
When asked to address concerns by the public that such tools are a “cash grab for police,” Thrower said it’s about a driver’s choice.
“If you don’t speed, I can guarantee you—you don’t get a ticket for speeding. If you slow down at an intersection, you don’t get a speed on green, and chances are you’re not going to get into a collision.”
“If I could get it down to zero and I could deploy all the people in the traffic section to other areas, I’d do that in a heartbeat.”
Over one million vehicles are registered in the city of Calgary. Thrower said police try to emphasize the consequences around speeding through school programs, speaking with motorists who are pulled over, and through the media.
“Speed is always a factor on – is a person going to survive or not survive in a lot of cases,” Thrower said. “If I can get rid of all my automated vehicles, and I don’t have to write any speeding tickets, then we’re starting to accomplish the ultimate goal.”
With files from Global’s Gary Bobrovitz