One full year’s worth of stats are out regarding photo radar in Saskatchewan and the picture they paint about whether the pilot project becomes permanent isn’t much clearer.
Minister responsible for SGI, Don McMorris is reflecting on the first year of the two-year pilot project.
“We have a seen a downward trend of speeding within the six out of the eight zones for sure, that are under the one per cent, and a downward trend in all the zones,” he said. “Of course SGI’s goal was to have less than one per cent speeding in all the locations.”
That trend McMorris is referring to is still relatively small compared to previous figures on speeding. When the program first started, five out of the eight zones already had the percentage of speeding drivers under one per cent, and while numbers may be declining, it’s only by a fraction of a percentage point.
While he can’t say for sure at this moment, McMorris believes there is a correlation between speed and safety.
“Year-over-year we’ve seen a reduction in the number of people that are speeding, which would lead us to think that the roads are safer,” McMorris said, speaking anecdotally.
The government does not have statistical proof that a reduction of speed leads to fewer crashes, injuries and deaths.
According to statistics from SGI, many of the locations chosen for photo radar actually had relatively low numbers of crashes related to speeding.
However, McMorris said depending on the location, one collision is too many, especially in school zones.
McMorris has said previously they’d have to see a trend downward in order to consider keeping radar up for good at several locations around the province. Still, the minister is optimistic about the future of the safety of drivers.
“What you can see is with reduced speed in those high volume areas, on and off of provincial highways for example, easier access. I think over a long, long period of time you’d notice a difference.”
McMorris noted that nothing has been deemed a success yet, as the province needs more time to analyze the numbers that will come in over year two of the program.
“Statistics need time to be statistically significant,” he said.
Drivers who called into Gormley on Friday morning seemed to be split on whether photo radar is an effective tool at improving safety.
“I love photo radar and I believe we should expand it all across the province,” said one caller.
“I don’t see the benefit in a long-term basis if this is actually stopping people and making the roads safer,” countered another caller.
Some think more police officers should be dispatched to these locations instead of cameras, but other callers argue that puts officers at a higher risk of getting injured. Then there’s the argument, which has been made frequently by drivers, that radar is nothing but cash grab.
From the inception of the program in early 2015 when actual tickets started getting handed out, up until the end of December of that year, McMorris said $8.4 million dollars has been raised.
A total of $2 million was left over for municipalities after expenses, administration costs and money towards the victims of crime fund. Regina received $1.2 million, Saskatoon brought in $488,000 and Moose Jaw collected $436,000.