Winnipeg's intersection cameras aren't nabbing more bad drivers, but the mobile photo radar vans sure are.
A new report released Tuesday by the Winnipeg Police Service shows the number of mobile photo radar tickets handed out in 2013 is up substantially from the previous year. Intersection cameras spit out about the same number of tickets, while old-fashioned enforcement by officers dropped by nearly half.
Police say new mobile photo radar technology and advances in digital imagery were responsible for the 64 per cent increase in mobile speed-trap tickets.
Winnipeggers often complain loudly about the city's photo-enforcement program, saying it's little more than a cash grab. The latest statistics will likely inflame opponents since the profit from photo enforcement more than doubled to $7.5 million.
The city has typically overestimated the amount of photo radar revenue it will earn yearly. Last year was the first time since at least 2010 revenues went up.
Other cities, such as New York, that have made reducing traffic deaths a priority, are clamouring for more photo-enforcement technology, calling it an effective tool to get motorists to slow down.
City police say intersection cameras significantly reduce speeds as well as the worst kind of crashes, the right-angle or T-bone collisions. The new report notes there have been no fatalities at any of the intersections monitored by intersection photo radar cameras.
Winnipeg Police Board chairman Scott Fielding, the councillor for St. James-Brooklands, said he is not convinced photo enforcement really improves driver behaviour, though he concedes it's here to stay for at least the six-year duration of the latest contract with outside technology contractors.
Fielding says he would have preferred to see an increase in tickets handed out the traditional way -- by officers in police cruisers who can check a car for anything suspicious, run a driver for outstanding warrants and perhaps change behaviour one-on-one.
"There are no side benefits with photo radar," said Fielding. "You get the ticket two, three weeks later, and that's it."
The report suggests fighting your photo radar ticket in court usually won't pay off, either.
Nearly 108,000 drivers were convicted in their cases, while only 511 saw their cases stayed, roughly the same as in 2012 despite last year's big jump in tickets.
The intersection at Bishop Grandin Boulevard and River Road continues to yield the biggest return for police, with 3,665 drivers nabbed for red-light or speeding infractions in 2013. The Kenaston Boulevard-Corydon Avenue intersection flashed the second-most times last year, capturing 2,342 drivers running a red light or speeding through.
While the photo-enforcement cameras continue to operate more than police would like, there is some promising news in the report.
Fatal crashes were down in 2013, with just over five deadly collisions listed.
That's significantly lower than the 20-plus fatal collisions listed in the previous year. According to MPI data, 10 people died in those collisions, which is also down.
-- With files from Adam Wazny