Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Red Light Cameras - Tax Grab or Accident Minimizer?

Good evening Regina!!!

There has been some amazing reporting done by a new(?) reporter, Jill Smith, over at News Talk CJME, and I must say I am very, very impressed with her coverage. I'm not sure if Rawlco has loosened up their belts on how they report things a la City Hall, but whatever the reason, I love the results. Truly unbiased, hard hitting reports that get to the heart of the story.

Recently, CJME News broke the story of how at least one of our Red Light Cameras in Regina are not actually in operation. In fact, it hasn't been in operation for at least the past three years! Why? The best explanation is that the sensors were removed when they repaved the Lewvan. To me, there has to be more to this story, but if that's honestly what the justification is, I find it completely ludicrous that Mayor Michael Fougere (then Councillor) is claiming this is the first he'd heard of it. Now, I know the Mayor's seat doesn't get to see everything in this City, but considering he sits on the Board of Police Commissioners, as did his right hand man, Mr. Fiasco, one would reasonably expect him to be cognisant of this issue prior to an outside media outlet reporting on it. 

Now, to me, the question becomes: Are the Red Light Cameras as good as the City leads us to believe? Are they purely a tax grab, or do they actually cause drivers to adjust their behaviour in such a way that reduces the accidents at said intersections? Well, based on the facts laid out in CJME's report, I'm leaning more towards the fact that they are nothing but a tax grab, and do nothing to actually reduce accidents. In fact, if anything, they cause more. There are schools of thought on the severity of accidents being minimized, but honestly, you must factor in environmental equations into the mix, and remove "chance" happenings from the statistics. This is one reason why statistics are a horrible way to measure "success" of a program that is not impervious to human error.

In the end, the City of Regina (or apparently some unknown party) has collected over $1 MILLION in fines from the Red Light Cameras over the past few years. ONE MILLION DOLLARS. That's WITHOUT one of them even working! And, accidents actually went up. To me, this is a no brainer, and is something that the Mayor of Regina and the Board of Police Commissioners should take a serious look at. Why have a system that penalizes drivers (actually the owners of said vehicles, not even the actual driver as it could be someone else driving your vehicle) after the fact, rather than having a system set up to - say - lengthen the time from a Yellow Light being triggered to a Green Light being triggered for the cross traffic? One very easy, albeit very simplistic, idea to look at.

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