June 29, 2020

Survey Gives Green Light to Vehicular Speed Cameras in British Columbia


During the Covid Crisis and the last three months of working from home, there’s been one surprising constant~traffic on roads has significantly lowered in volume but drivers are travelling much faster.

Last  May  Vancouver Island’s  Saanich Police impounded 16 vehicles for speeding in four weeks compared to 2 impounds in the same period last year. All were going more than 40 kilometres an hour over the posted speed limit. In April Coquitlam RCMP stopped 12 vehicle drivers for speeding in a two week period, including one driver that was travelling 50 kilometres an hour faster than the posted speed limit. The Province’s public safety minister Mike Farnsworth stated “It’s really quite shocking”.

I have been writing about my personal experience in Switzerland where speed is rigidly enforced by camera technology with some surprising results. Enforced slower speeds (the maximum travel speed is 120 km/h and that is rigidly enforced) has made Swiss motorways the safest according to the European Transport Safety Council.  In 2019 there were 187 road deaths in Switzerland with a population of 8.57 million. In 2018 in  British Columbia with a population of 5.071 million people there were 314 road fatalities.

Mario Canseco’s Research Co.  has been gauging attitudes to speed camera technology in  British Columbia and the results may surprise you. After following these trends for two years, Mario observes:

“In 2020, we continue to see a high level of support across the province for four different types of automated speed enforcement. Seven in 10 British Columbians (71%) approve of using fixed speed cameras. These devices stay in one location, measure speed as a vehicle passes and can be placed in school zones or on other roads. This year’s findings are remarkably consistent with what the province’s residents told us in the 2018 survey (71%) and in the 2019 poll (69%).”

And in terms of the reintroduction of intersection cameras which record high speeds through intersections 70% of  those surveyed supported them. The Province has has already issued over 20,000 tickets for this type of intersection speeding.

Mario Canseco gives a bit of the history around photo radar, which was cancelled by the BC Liberals in 2001. Twenty years later “large majorities of British Columbians who voted for the BC New Democratic Party (NDP) (76%), the BC Liberals (74%) and the BC Green Party (65%) in the 2017 provincial election are in favour of speed-on-green enforcement.”

Even more surprising is that 68% of residents in B.C. would like to see mobile speed cameras that can move to different locations and measure drivers’ speed on various sections of road.

The poll results were based upon online work between June 13 to 15 with 800 adults in the province.  Mario makes a point of saying “This is not a situation where pedestrians, bike riders and public transit users are banding together to make things tougher for drivers. Sizable majorities of the province’s residents, whether they are behind the wheel or not, have steadily endorsed a move towards automated speed enforcement for the past three years.”

Here’s a YouTube video from last July of  B.C.’s Public  Safety Minister Mike Farnsworth announcing the introduction of automated speed enforcement cameras in Vancouver.

Image: Postmedia


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  1. The most effective speed cameras are those that are placed at two locations and record the time it has taken for a vehicle to travel between them. They require no new technology at all since recording registration plates for travel survey purposes is already a well established practice. These ought to have been installed on freeways across the province since this is where high speeds have become accepted as “normal” since the end of widespread photo radar.

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