UPDATED: Photo radar coming to Moose Jaw

Nathan Liewicki
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The intersection of Ninth Avenue Northwest and the Trans-Canada Highway, pictured Tuesday, will boast a photo radar camera later this summer in an attempt to get motorists to slow down in what is an 80 km/h zone. 

Traffic safety initiative aimed at slowing down motorists

A new pilot program is coming to the Friendly City and it could take a bite out of your wallet.

Photo radar – a foreign concept in Saskatchewan – will make its debut in Moose Jaw, Saskatoon and Regina later this summer.

The intersection of Ninth Avenue Northwest and the Trans-Canada Highway will be the site of one of Moose Jaw’s photo radar cameras.

“There have been a lot of crashes there – a lot of fatal crashes at that location,” Shannon Ell, manager of traffic safety with Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), told the Times-Herald Tuesday.

“Ninth Avenue and Highway 1 has a pretty bad crash experience.”

Ell said SGI decided that the high-risk intersection was the appropriate place to set up the photo radar pilot program in the Friendly City based on its crash experience rating.

Add to it that the average driver travels 90.9 km/h through that intersection – nearly 11 km over the speed limit — with many others driving at speeds in extent of 100 km/h and it just makes sense.

“We want to slow people down and see if it doesn’t change things.”

Corporal Blair Bucsis, traffic co-ordinator for the Moose Jaw Police Service's (MJPS) Community Programs and Safety Unit, could not agree more.

“Historically it's one of our worst accident intersections. When we have an accident, speed is often a factor,” said Bucsis. “It's also a high-risk area to do speed enforcement and (photo radar) will help keep officers safe.”

The Ninth Avenue Northwest and Trans-Canada Highway intersection will not, however, be the only place photo radar cameras are set up in the city.

The pilot program will also target speeders in school zones, where speed limits stand at 40 km/h.

Ell expects a photo radar camera will be set up to alternate between three to five Moose Jaw schools, nabbing speeders.

The program will not be established overnight. Not until early summer does Ell anticipate the pilot program officially getting off the ground, with the first six months serving as a grace period where only warnings will be mailed to offending motorists.

“We are trying to be very transparent with this program, so we want people to get used to the cameras where they are and we’ll give them some time to change their habits without actually nailing them in the pocket,” said Ell.

The six-month trial period will also allow SGI to evaluate, make adjustments and sharpen the photo radar program as they move forward.

Ell stressed the program is not a cash grab, but a 100 per cent traffic safety initiative.

“We are going to have those zones signed so well that people who don’t slow down in them (will be) choosing to break the law,” she said. “If they don’t slow down, they are asking for a ticket.”

Compared to other provinces, Ell admitted Saskatchewan is late to the photo radar party, but noted that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“I think now that we are moving forward with photo radar – even as a pilot program – it’s a good thing for traffic safety in Saskatchewan,” said Ell.

The decision to install photo radar stemmed from recommendations made by the Special Committee on Traffic Safety, which was formed by the provincial government in 2013 to address the high rate of injuries and fatalities on Saskatchewan roads. 

In Moose Jaw, the program will be operated by the MJPS.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Trans-Canada Highway, Special Committee on Traffic Safety

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Ninth Avenue Northwest, Canada Saskatoon Regina

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