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Town considers traffic enforcement system

Feb 04, 2014 11:15 am | Sam Macdonald

Before the regular Town of St. Paul Council meeting on Jan. 27, two representatives for Global Traffic Group met with council, to discuss the potential for a new system to be put in place, to help monitor traffic in St. Paul.

The company gave a presentation on a photo enforcement system, discussing how it how it could be used to enforce bylaws. David Steer, CEO of, and spokesperson for Global Traffic Group, explained that St. Paul met the legal population size requirement to have photo enforcement put in place, with a population over 5,000.

Steer explained that before anything is implemented, that a full evaluation would be done in conjunction with the local RCMP, “to find out if photo enforcement is the right solution,” for St. Paul.

Once a need is recognized, a traffic safety committee would then identify zones to enforce. The committee would take into account bylaws, and times the offenses most commonly happen, and base their decision on how dangerous and busy a particular area is.

“We look to make benchmark data, to see where speeding is going on, and we look for trends,” Steer added, also saying, “We’re not going to be focusing on areas where people are going 51km/h in a 50km/h zone.”

One of the features of the photo enforcement system that makes it as efficient as it is, Steer explained, is the high resolution technology it uses to capture images of the vehicles that are violating the law by speeding.

“We started with low resolution cameras, but that wasn’t enough for the Crown Prosecutor, so we built our own system. Right now, our photo enforcement system uses LTI 20-20 long lenses for clear photos,” said Steer, describing the laser utilizing cameras used to capture traffic offenses.

Steer explained that the system can establish within one to two kilometers, how fast a person is going, in less than a second, instantly taking a high-definition picture of the vehicle. The system is also capable of taking video.

“It’s an efficient process to catch speed violations,” said Steer, although, “It can’t do everything. It can’t tell whether people are drinking, or whether or not they’re wearing seatbelts. However, it frees up police to do more tasks. We consider our system a tool that policing services can use in their work.”

One of the benefits touted in the presentation to council was an overall decrease in the number and severity of accidents in communities that use photo enforcement.

Later in the meeting, council watched footage taken in other municipalities in Alberta, where the system is in place, depicting typical traffic violations, and showing how effective the photo enforcement system was at capturing incidents.

“This was an interesting presentation, I’ve heard about this system before and was glad we had the opportunity to see how things work in more detail,” said Coun. Dwight Wiebe.

Coun. Edna Gervais enquired about the costs of the system, and Steer’s response was that Global Traffic covers the startup costs, while asking for some assistance from public works departments to set up the necessary equipment.

“We get compensated through the ticket revenue,” said Steer.

He explained that the system, when implemented, is often accepted with enthusiasm by law enforcement, and is described as efficient.

“People are renewing their contracts, sometimes four and five times, because it’s such a great tool for reducing accident potential.”

St. Paul RCMP Sgt. Darrell McPherson was also in attendance and mentioned that he knew of communities that implemented the system and shut it down later.

Kracher responded to that saying that it was Global Traffic’s goal to establish a close working relationship between the company and the RCMP.

“It’s not going to replace us, but it’s going to help. It wouldn’t be able to tell if someone were drinking, or not buckled in, or not driving with a proper license, only we can see that,” McPherson said.

Mayor Glenn Andersen expressed approval at the idea of a photo enforcement system, saying, “There are so many people speeding in the town, and on their way into town. People are going 140km/h on their way into town, coming east, and lights to slow people down in that area are expensive.”

He added, “Speeding is a huge issue for the town and county. How many more times can that kind of thing happen before someone gets hurt? We’re after safety at intersections first and foremost.”

Council accepted the presentation as information, since Coun. Don Padlesky, and Coun. Norm Noel were absent from the meeting. A decision was made to review the information at a later date, in a meeting with all councillors, and with input from the St. Paul RCMP and the town’s peace officers.

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