MAYORAL candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette is renewing his calls to improve road safety and make speeding tickets fairer.
Ouellette first made the promise in late June, but the pledge was overshadowed by Mayor Sam Katz's announcement that he would not seek re-election.
Thursday, Ouellette tweaked his promise to reflect his wish the Winnipeg Police Board lead the way in reviewing road safety and making sure traffic tickets and photo radar reduce the number of accidents. He called on the police board to undertake independent research into the effectiveness of photo radar as a safety tool rather than a revenue generator, which many critics allege it is.
"I'm not saying I'm against photo radar," said Ouellette. "My main point is an independent body removed from the politicians should investigate it and tell us what we should be doing and let's implement it."
Echoing many of the claims of the anti-photo-radar lobby group Wise Up Winnipeg, Ouellette said the city has refused to release fulsome data on tickets and accident rates.
The Winnipeg Police Service releases an annual report on photo radar that includes pages of detailed statistics, including accident rates at intersections and the number of tickets generated by each camera. Manitoba Public Insurance keeps extremely detailed crash data it has released to the Free Press repeatedly.
Police and MPI figures show less-serious rear-end collisions have increased modestly but right-angle collisions -- the T-bone crashes that are by far the most deadly -- have dropped since intersection cameras were installed. The safety value of mobile photo radar is harder to gauge.
Ouellette said he would like an independent eye to review the data, and said the high number of rear-end crashes speaks to the need to increase the length of amber lights. He said signal timing ought to be reviewed to ensure amber times follow proper safety engineering protocols.
The U.S. Department of Transportation says the jury is still out on the safety value of longer yellows. The move may reduce violations, but a too-long yellow can also cause traffic jams and may prompt drivers to enter an intersection later once they get used to the longer timing. Typically, yellow lights are only lengthened by a second or two, but longer waits at intersections can make motorists impatient and more likely to run a red.
Ouellette also called for better speed-limit signage and better co-ordination between police and public works on road-safety issues.