Photo Radar

Speeding is a leading cause of urban collisions and often causes injury and death. Three countermeasures are used to address speeding:

a. Education,

b. Engineering of roads,

c. Enforcement.

Enforcement can be manned traffic stops or unmanned photo radar. Personally I believe that the manned speed traps are preferred for many reasons. The immediacy of the ticket, the demerits, and the opportunity for our RCMP to witness other violations all come into play. It’s also an opportunity for the RCMP to bring Education to bear by talking to the speeder. But we do not have enough RCMP officers, and some speeding locations can be unsafe for the officers. Consequently, photo enforcement has been globally adopted as a countermeasure in speed management and studies have shown it to be effective in mitigating speeding problems. There is much controversy surrounding the use of photo radar and I honestly believe if used correctly it is an effective tool.

The key is “used correctly”.  I hear complaints about the use of photo radar occasionally and generally the complaint is not about the use it is about the choice of location or questions about the posted speed limit.

To approach a solution I would like to address three important points:

  1. Choice of Location
  2. Posted Speed Limit
  3. Use of Revenue


Choice of Location

We have 150 sites approved by the RCMP and the Province for photo rader. Often I hear complaints that the photo units, whether they be cars or the boxes, are set up in speed transition zones. I think that inappropriate sites are at the bottom of hills and within 200m of a change of speed limit. More appropriate sites are places where it is unsafe for RCMP officers or puts pedestrians at risk, school zones, playground zones, construction zones, areas of high history of collisions or in response to public complaints.


Posted Speed Limit

Our roads have been designed by professional traffic engineers. Each roadway has a designated speed limit for safe travel. Yet sometimes speed limits are set against the recommendations of the engineers, due to political or public pressure. I believe a review of posted speed limits is in order for some of our streets, to ensure a balance between safety and free flow of traffic.


Use of Revenue

Photo radar ticket revenue is generally split between levels of government as follows:


73 per cent to the municipality (out of this we need to pay our service provider); and

27 per cent to the province.

(*An additional 15 per cent victims surcharge is levied on top of each ticket.)


Of the remaining funds the City of St. Albert uses 50% goes into a safety reserve for traffic related safety improvements. The remaining 50% fine revenue is accounted for within the Policing Services department budget and helps reduce the overall tax burden on residents for the expense of policing the community including the RCMP contract costs.


My vision of success would be a reduction in revenue from photo radar as that is an indication of reduced speeding on St. Albert streets.

I too occasionally get those letters in the mail and get angry, but I get angry with myself. To me the solution to photo radar is simple: watch your speed.

0 thoughts on “Photo Radar

  1. The amount of enforcement for one highway traffic act law is completely disproportionate to the public good. Since photo radar revenue is even in the city budget it’s obviously being enforced for the revenue potential. Take a stance against photo radar and you would have my support.

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