The issue of photo radar has been a sticking point for some residents, but a recently approved plan might provide incentive for drivers to obey speed limits around town.
Along with several other methods of improving traffic safety over the next year, Canmore council has decided to implement a one-year “I drive safely” pilot project that will award drivers who stay at or below the speed limit on a monthly basis.
“This is recognizing and awarding drivers,” said Greg Burt, the Town’s manager of protective services. “It’s encouraging people to drive slow. The intent is to promote safe driving habits in the Town of Canmore.”
According to the pilot project’s plan, vehicles observed by photo radar and in some situations, bylaw services, driving the speed limit will be documented and their license plate numbers entered into a monthly draw.
Four $250 gift certificate prizes for a Town of Canmore business will be handed out each month to those who obey the speed limit.
Administration pointed out there are a few challenges associated with implementing this program, such as encouraging those who don’t normally drive to use their vehicles more often and the gift certificates potentially being awarded to out of town residents.
Town administrators also noted that once the program finishes one year of operation it would review the photo radar statistics to see if the incentive had an effect on reducing speeds. Based on the results, the program may continue, end or be altered.
To fund the pilot project, money collected from the photo radar reserve will be used, to a maximum of $12,000.
“I think it’s a win times five,” said Councillor Sean Krausert regarding the motion to pass the one-year pilot program. “It’s a win for local businesses being supported and a win for drivers paid for from the photo reserve.”
Coun. Hans Helder said the project could ease tensions about some of the public’s distaste for photo radar.
“There’s an undercurrent to photo radar that creates a reaction within the community that this is nothing but a money grab,” Helder said. “There’s got to be a real connection between radar funds and traffic safety.
“This is a very positive first step in moving in that direction,” he added. “I think some very creative work has been done.”
In addition to the “I drive safely” program, council also passed some other measures to improve road safety.
The Town plans to purchase and install four vehicle activation traffic calming signs that will detect speeds and inform drivers to slow down if they are exceeding the speed limit. Unlike the speed display trailers, the traffic calming signs do not show the vehicle speed and remain blank if drivers are under the limit.
Again, administration will look at the results of the traffic calming signs as well as the speed display trailers already in town to determine whether or not they’re having any effect in curbing speeders.
Following a request from a visually impaired resident, the Town will install audible pedestrian signals in key locations the engineering department has identified throughout the community.
The 2013 budget has set aside $50,000 for traffic safety initiatives. The bulk of that amount, $40,000, will be used to purchase and install the traffic calming signs while it will cost $8,000 for the audible pedestrian signals.
An additional $2,000 will be spent on a traffic calming procedure, which would address how concerns identified by residents, council and staff regarding traffic safety could be mitigated, the plan noted.
Council passed the “I drive safely” program as well as the other traffic measures unanimously.