Nearly three years into what was intended to be a two-year pilot program, photo radar cameras continue to be set up in a variety of locations around Saskatchewan.
Now, SGI no longer considers the program to be a pilot.
“We kind of stopped referring to it as a ‘pilot’. We found, and the preliminary findings from the evaluation do show that there is some really good results from the cameras being out there,” explained Shannon Ell, SGI’s director of traffic safety promotion.
When asked whether dropping the word pilot was foreshadowing to suggest the cameras would eventually become permanent, Ell said not necessarily.
“The future is unknown at this point. We need some government direction and what to do with the future of it, so I wouldn’t imply that because we dropped ‘pilot’ that it’s here to stay.”
It was last March when the testing of speed cameras was scheduled to wrap up l. The government said at that time it would be looking over the data to see if the program should continue. While that happened, the cams would continue to run and nab speeders. Ten months later, the cameras remain operational.
“We will be considering the future of the program over the next couple of months here,” Ell said.
She said after the two-year period ended, an evaluation process started. That process continues.
Camera changes location
Ell confirmed the radar camera that had been previously set up on Highway 1 east of Regina between Pilot Butte and White City has moved. It’s been added to the Trans-Canada Highway in Moose Jaw, in the same area at 9th Avenue where another camera is already set up, just facing the other direction.
The reasoning for the movement, she explained, has to do with the bypass and infrastructure improvements for drivers east of Regina.
“That risk isn’t there anymore so there’s really no need to have a camera out there so we decided to move it so that both directions at Moose Jaw have cameras,” Ell said.
The stretch of Highway 1 around Moose Jaw has been what Ell described as a problem area.
One of the goals for SGI was to have less than one per cent of vehicles ticketed in relation to the total traffic volume at each location. That’s not currently happening at the Moose Jaw location according to Ell, where the issuance rate of tickets is typically just above one per cent.
According to stats from SGI, before the cameras were installed at that intersection at Highway 1 and 9th Avenue, a total of 14 crashes occurred over a five-year span, averaging about three crashes a year. An average of only one person was hurt.
The camera was moved and has been in operation since mid-December.
While the public wasn’t directly notified of the changes, Ell said extra signage has been added.
SGI’s website has not been updated to show this location change.
SGI encouraged by stats
One of the province’s goals for the photo radar program was to see a reduction in speed-related crashes. The government previously said it was looking for a downward trend in these statistics. It had also previously indicated they wanted to make roads safer.
“The higher the speed the more severe the crash. That’s why speeding is on our radar,” said Ell.
She said from 2011 to 2014 the yearly average of speed-related crashes across all camera location sites was 97. Over the last few years of photo radar being in place she said that average dropped to 72 crashes across the same locations.
“We have seen a fairly significant drop in the number of speed-related crashes at the sites,” Ell said in how she interpreted the numbers.
A total of $6.9 million has been raised for municipal and provincial traffic safety initiatives during the period from March 8, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2017. Ell said this is the money left over after costs to run the cameras, administrative costs and money that goes towards the victims of crime fund.
Ell said the expense to run each of the five cameras is $21,000 per month.