No timeline for fixing red light camera in Regina

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October 7, 2013 - 6:29am Updated: March 3, 2014 - 2:47pm
File photo of a red light camera in Saskatchewan.
File photo of a red light camera in Saskatchewan.

It’s a bash in Regina lately—especially at some intersections in the city. Traffic volumes have spiked and that means a new picture of Regina’s most dangerous intersections is beginning to emerge.

The reigning champion of dangerous intersections is Fleet Street/University Park Drive and Victoria Avenue. There were 118 crashes there between 2010 and 2012. Albert Street and Saskatchewan Drive comes in second place at 101. And the intersection of Dewdney Avenue and Lewvan Drive slides into a close third with 96 crashes.

“The top three have been there for a number of years,” said Shannon Ell, manager of traffic safety promotion at SGI.

Do those intersections seem familiar?

Those are three of the four original intersections that had red light cameras installed back in 2000. The camera at Fleet and Victoria was removed in 2004. The camera at Dewdney and Lewvan has been out of commission for the last three years. The only red light camera intersection that isn’t on the list for top crashes in Regina is Albert Street and Parliament Avenue.

Police, SGI and the City have been reviewing the red light camera program for a number of years. People on the committee say the decision for the future of the program is not a simple decision to make. The complexity is reflected in a city report from 2006. When crashes were tracked for 4 years before and after the red light cameras were launched in October 2000, the results were inconsistent.

The story at Lewvan Drive and Dewdney Avenue strays from the other intersections. Total crashes went up a whopping 57 per cent. Rear end collisions were up 90 per cent. Right angle collisions went down 14 per cent.

Crashes at Albert Street and Parliament Avenue went up slightly in that time. But both right-angle collisions and rear end collisions went down, 43 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

Looking over at Albert Street and Saskatchewan Drive, crashes there went down six per cent in that time period. Right angle collisions went down 39 per cent. But rear end crashes went up 12 per cent.

It’s expected that intersections with red light cameras will see a slight increase in rear end collisions but a decrease in right-angle crashes. People in right-angle crashes tend to have more serious injuries than those involved in rear end collisions. The above data doesn’t meet those expectations.

People on the red light committee say they’re pouring over those numbers—and more. They say they are taking factors such as traffic volume changes, road engineering, and a variety of other safety alternatives, such as advance warning lights, into consideration. The committee says it doesn’t have enough information to make a decision—as you’ll see in the following transcript.

COMMITTEE MEMBER ASKS HER OWN QUESTIONS

For the sake of transparency and context, we decided to publish a transcript of the interview with Inspector Sheree Ortman. She's the police officer who sits on the red light camera committee. This is not the entire interview. The full interview took nearly 20 minutes. This is the tail end of the interview, where the bulk of the questions about the effectiveness of the cameras and the reason why one of Regina’s cameras has been out of commission for three years, were answered.

Reporter: How responsible is it to keep it and let it be out of commission for three years?

Ortman: I think the better question is: it would be very irresponsible to repair a camera that may not be sustainable for very long because of outdated equipment.”

Reporter: There’s always new technology coming up and better ways to do things. So in the meantime, just, nothing’s been done about it? It seems like some sort of decision should have been made in three years.

Ortman: I disagree with you. As I said, these decisions are very complex. They require a lot of commitment, financially as well as resources and it’s a decision that until all the information is gathered and analyzed and we’re confident in what should be and what we should recommend to be done, I don’t believe that three years is an extraordinarily long time, depending upon where you are at the decision-making process. If you’re not confident in the proper recommendation to supply to the stakeholders then you will need more time. And at this point in time, we’re not confident because we need to have more information with regard to that location and what’s the best option as far as trying to improve the public safety around Dewdney and Lewvan.

Reporter: And when will you have that information? What other information do you need?

Ortman: We are looking at what other municipalities throughout North America are doing. We’re also looking at more thoroughly analyzing the types of injuries. We do have the number of motor vehicle collisions that are happening at these intersections, but as I explained before, the number isn’t really an accurate reflection. What we need is to better understand what type of injuries are happening with each types of these collisions so that we can really make a confident decision as far as is there a significant improvement? And why. We also need to look at the characteristics of these intersections. Some of them may be very much, I guess, earmarked for a red light camera, depending. But as I mentioned,  some of them may be better redesigned or other traffic enforcement and traffic engineering implementation—signage, signaling changes. It may be better to do those instead of having the red light camera at that intersection.

Reporter: Yeah, I understand there’s all these factors, for sure, that have to go through it. I guess I’m wondering how much work has gone into it with this committee because no one seemed to have the numbers on-hand. People had to pull it up. It took days to do. When will a decision be made?

Ortman: We don’t have a timeline for a decision. As I said, it is not a decision that is going to be made under a deadline. It’s a decision that’s going to be made when all of the appropriate information has been brought to the committee, properly assessed, and that we’re confident in the recommendations we put forward.

Reporter: so you have no timeline on when you’ll have that information?

Ortman: we have no timeline.