Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Photo radar poll
I’ve covered the photo radar in Winnipeg since its very beginning almost 10 years ago.
The cameras weren’t switched on until 2002, but there was plenty of lead-up to the traffic cameras being installed. Plenty.
One thing that happened way back then that still sticks out for me is this. In pushing for provincial approval to get the cameras, former Mayor Glen Murray had this to say Oct. 15, 2001: "To get a ticket, you have to be a complete idiot. This is a tax on idiots."
Murray later regretted his choice of words, but then as now they still hold true: If you don’t speed or run a red light, you won’t get a ticket. It can’t be any more simple than that.
The other thing that sticks out is the ongoing argument whether photo radar is a cash grab or a tool to make streets safer.
In my mind it’s a no-brainer it’s about the money. It always has been. And if it gets people to slow down and results in fewer collisions, injuries and deaths, so much the better.
In my little neck of the woods, both my wife and I have gotten photo radar tickets. Once each. The hit on our pocketbook was a hard lesson. So we’ve slowed down. We’d rather spend on money on other things. I’ve got no problem with the cameras. If cameras watch me in the legislative building’s hallways, at businesses where I shop, eat and gas up, why not on the street?
Is it big brother? Yup. Is it a cash grab? Again, yup. Is it the best way to catch speeders? Yup. Until they start cloning police officers with hand-held radar guns in their hands, it’s the only alternative. Unless, of course, we all slow down.
I also don’t know how we can dedicate street cops to man speed traps, instead of using photo radar, when many of these same cops are being deployed to quell street gang violence. The cop tree doesn’t have that many leaves.
Recently, Winnipeg police and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) released the results of a public opinion poll on photo radar.
Simply, it found most people support it. [Read the full report in PDF format here.] TIRF is currently evaluating the effectiveness of photo enforcement in reducing crashes in a wider report to be released later in the year.
Staff Sgt. Mark Hodgson shared with me more details of the TIRF poll. Hodgson is the officer in charge of the Winnipeg police central traffic unit.
"We’re trying to be as transparent as possible," Hodgson said. "We want people to realize that this is truly independent."
Please look at the poll how it was conducted yourself.
And slow down. Please.
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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen
Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.
Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.
At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.
Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.
He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.
Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.
In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.
You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.
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