Five months into implementation, the region's automated speed enforcement program seems to be paying off - both in changing driver behaviour and in gathering revenue. Targeting speeders in school zones, that program currently includes one traffic camera rotated over 13 sites with plans to add three more locations by the end of June.
Speaking to the benefits of the program as a guest on the Mike Farwell Show was Steven Van De Keere, the region's Director of Transportation. With regards to those positive results, Van De Keere said that staff have already seen a drop in average motorist speed of about five kilometres an hour at the sites that have been in operation through the first five months - issuing 2,673 tickets.
"... it's not about the tickets; it's about the good news that we're actually affecting driver behaviour." said Van De Keere. "That five kilometre an hour slowdown is significant. It's not a huge number, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. We're hoping for even lower operating speeds as the program rolls out more extensively."
Aiming to further encourage various forms of active transportation in the region, Van De Keere said that the goal of the program is to slow drivers down everywhere on local roads and neighbourhoods - not just in school zones - to support safety for those that choose to walk or bike to school. Van De Keere said that he's hopeful the program can bring a change in driver behaviour, as he said that it's important that drivers come to believe they could get a ticket "if they're driving too fast near any school zone."
"We want to plant that seed in their minds, so we want to get these things out and operating. We want there to be public knowledge in the community about them so people talk about them." said Van De Keere. "All of those things will help to bring a change in driver behaviour. That's what we're really looking to do: is a change in the culture of driving, especially in neighbourhoods."
Likening the automated speed enforcement initiative to the red light camera program, Van De Keere said that program also started out small - with "only four sites initially and one camera", eventually expanding in both sites and cameras to the point that there was one at every site. Van De Keere said he believes there's interest in seeing the automated speed enforcement program expanded further, as he said staff have "seen the benefits", noting that they will be looking at ways to include more sites in the future.
"It will take time because there are bottlenecks in the processing of the tickets ... and things like the Administrative Monetary Penalty system (...) will help to break through some of the processing bottlenecks ..." said Van De Keere. "Ultimately, it'd be good to have one in front of every school, but there are hundreds that could be eligible in the region so ... we have to start out small and keep expanding, and we are prioritizing locations where we are placing the initial cameras."
Van De Keere said the tickets issued so far have generated roughly $93,000 in revenue for the region - barely covering the cost of operating but "in line" with estimates of an annual revenue of about $200,000.