Saskatchewan

Photo radar creates backlog of speeding tickets in Sask.

Police are struggling to keep up with the number of speeding violations captured by photo enforcement cameras installed at some high-speed intersections in the province.

Number of violating vehicles "much higher" than thought: Moose Jaw Police

A Saskatoon man who was ticketed in November for driving 106 km/hour along Circle Drive says there are not enough posted signs alerting motorists photo radar is in use. (CBC)

If you've been speeding on roads with photo radar systems and haven't received a ticket in the mail yet, it doesn't mean you're off the hook. 

The Saskatchewan government's photo radar pilot project is supposed to send speeders caught on camera a ticket in the mail, but the quantity of tickets to process is creating a backlog of thousands.

I think it caught us all by surprise.- Rick Bourassa, Moose Jaw Police Chief

"We knew we had an issue, but we didn't realize that it was as high as it is and I think it caught us all by surprise," said Moose Jaw Police Chief Rick Bourassa. 

In Moose Jaw, SGI reported that there were 2,174 violations at a high speed intersection at Highway 1 and 9th Avenue in the month of September. 

That month only 426 tickets were issued.

In Regina the numbers weren't much better. Of 2,218 speed violators caught on camera in September on Ring Road, only 992 were issued tickets. 

There are also speed cameras on Circle Drive in Saskatoon and in school zones in Moose Jaw, Regina and Saskatoon. All of the cameras are experiencing a backlog.  

Dealing with the backlog

Bourassa said to combat the high number of violations, they hired extra peace officers to help verify. 

Each photo taken by the radar machine goes through multiple checks before a ticket is handed out.  

"We have two levels of check to make sure we're actually capturing a violation and that it's the correct license plate and therefore we're sending the violation to the owner," he said.

Photo-radar units like this one in St. Albert are being used in Saskatchewan to encourage drivers to keep to the speed limit. (CBC)

Out-of-province license plates present another problem, as they need to be manually processed and run through that province's database. Bourassa said about half of the violators his station is processing aren't from Saskatchewan. 

Despite the pileup, Bourassa still supports the program. 

"One of our primary goals is to reduce speeds, and by doing that, to reduce not only the number of collisions but the severity of collisions that can happen in that stretch of highway," he said. 

Impact of photo radar

SGI says the program is still having a positive impact on the speed people are travelling at. 

"If you're travelling the Ring Road you can really tell there is marked difference in terms of the speed in which people are travelling," said Kwei Quaye, assistant vice president of Traffic Safety Services at SGI.

Quaye said the primary goal of the program is to make the roads safer, not to give people tickets.

"We don't want anyone to get a photo speed enforcement ticket," he said. 

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