2/6/2006Canada: Judge, Cop Slam Speed Camera Traps
An appeals court judge in Calgary, Canada and a former police officer criticize speed cameras in transitional speed zones.
In a written opinion Thursday, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Peter Martin criticized the Calgary, Canada police practice of placing speed cameras in such a way as to trap motorists unfairly. Martin was considering the case of motorist John Hilton who had appealed an $87 ticket he received on July 31, 2004 for driving 84km/h past a speed camera placed at the transition from an 80km/h limit to 70.
"It is clear that the primary objective of the enforcement of traffic laws must be to ensure the safe usage of Alberta's highways and not to generate municipal revenues," Martin wrote. "If the traffic enforcement people are, in fact, concerned with giving the northbound motorists every opportunity to comply with the reduced speed, there is a place on the west side of the highway from which that can be done more fairly."
Despite his sympathy for the defendant, Martin had no legal grounds upon which to overturn the conviction handed down by a lower court. Charlie Pester, a former seven-year veteran of the Calgary Police Service agreed with the judge.
"It's all about money," Pester told the Calgary Sun newspaper.
Pester also warned that focusing ticket efforts on areas where speed limits are in transition is dangerous. "What this will lead to is the slam-brakes mentality if that's the way police want to enforce it," he said. "What kind of idea is that? Talk about creating accidents."