One City official believes the evidence shows that the use of Speed on Green will improve public safety in Red Deer.
Director of Community Sarah Cockerill uses Calgary, which has used the technology to nab drivers speeding through intersections since 2001, as a case study.
Cockerill said that from 2000-13, the number of fatal collisions where Speed on Green technology was used, dropped to zero.
Further, collisions causing injury decreased by 4% and total collisions dropped by 7%.
“So statistically speaking, we believe it will make our community safer, make our pedestrians safer and is being implemented in our high-collision locations,” Cockerill said.
Now that council has approved the project, there’s a three-month notification period before the cameras start working. Then a 30-day grace period. Cockerill is expecting the program to start this summer.
During budget talks last month, council heard that City administration looked to municipalities of comparable size and found a number that already use the technology: Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Fort Saskatchewan, Lethbridge, St. Albert, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Strathcona County.
Cockerill said research since 2013 has shown that 6 to 7% of collisions across the province are attributed to unsafe speed. That number jumps to 27% when it comes to fatal crashes.
Locally, Speed on Green has been a recommendation of the Traffic Safety Working Group, a committee mandated to decrease the number of crashes that result in property damage, injury and death.
To do so, they are targeting aggressive drivers.
There are 10 high-risk intersections in Red Deer. They are defined as those where motorists are habitually ignoring traffic laws, or where there are high volumes of pedestrians and where conventional enforcement would be dangerous.
“In Red Deer in particular, we ran a trial in the summer period where we had over 400 people speeding through a high-collision location which was alarming for us,” Cockerill said.
Council approved the project in a 5-3 vote, with Councillors Buck Buchanan and Dianne Wyntjes opposed, as well as Mayor Tara Veer.
For Buchanan, he said there’s a perception in the community that the decision was made to generate revenue.
“They’re looking at me and saying, ‘Well, this is just nothing but to make money’,” Buchanan said.
He also wanted to hold off on issuing fines.
“Let’s try and educate folks on what they need to do or what the proper thing is to do,” he said. “Down the road, you can bring in the revenue piece versus right off the bat, we’ll give folks tickets.”
During debate, the councillor had suggested using the cameras on a pilot basis.
Speed on Green is expected to net the City $250,000 in ongoing revenue, which administration states is a conservative estimate.
Councillor Paul Harris, who supported the decision, said he’d prefer to issue demerit points instead of fines, though that would require proving the identify of the offending driver.
He rejects claims that the City is milking a “cash cow,” as he expects some will call it.
“I have no trouble charging a fee to somebody to get them to change their behaviour. We do that all the time,” Harris said.
“It’s penalizing the people that break the law and those same people are saying it’s a cash cow. That makes no sense to me whatsoever.”