6/14/2011Canada: Anti-Photo Enforcement Effort Heats Up
Group battles red light cameras and speed cameras with full-page newspaper advertisement.
A campaign to reform or eliminate the use of red light cameras and speed cameras is heating up in Winnipeg, Canada. Earlier this month the group WiseUpWinnipeg kicked off the effort with a two-page, full-color advertisement in the Winnipeg Sun newspaper.
"Attention Winnipeg drivers, you are being deliberately deceived," the ad warned. "The city of Winnipeg is engaged in a deliberate and dangerous campaign to induce photo enforcement violations and siphon your hard earned (cash)."
The group charges city officials with concealing information regarding the program efficacy in order to protect the "predatory cash grab." WiseUpWinnipeg has been rebuffed on several freedom of information requests for items as simple as a copy of the contract between Winnipeg and Affiliated Computer Services, the Dallas, Texas-based firm in charge of the program. The city also has refused to provide an analysis of the accident rates at photo enforced locations using data from the provincial automobile insurance company. In 2006, the city auditor recommended that this dataset be used because it offers precise numbers for the cost of each accident in the city (view audit report).
Winnipeg standardizes all of its intersections at 4 seconds of yellow, regardless of particular intersection speeds and characteristics. WiseUpWinnipeg has been trying to pressure the city to give drivers a longer warning period, as a 2005 Texas Transportation Institute study showed an extra second of yellow beyond the bare minimum ITE standard caused a significant reduction in the number of accidents (view study). Conversely, retaining insufficient yellow timing has been shown to increase violations.
"The four-second amber is the cornerstone of the entire scheme," group co-founder Todd Dube said in a statement. "It is what creates the dangerous yet profitable 'dilemma zone' for drivers -- without it the program would be reduced to capturing the 'real red light runners' and there aren't enough of those to line the coffers at city hall."
As part of the "Taking it the the Streets" campaign, WiseUpWinnipeg is offering free signs warning of speed cameras and short yellow times that residents can use to save their neighbors from falling into a speed trap. The group is urging the public to email their thoughts on cameras to Mayor Sam Katz. The advertisement also urges all ticket recipients to plead not guilty to every photo enforcement ticket.