The province says there will be photo radar on the Sea to Sky Highway this weekend, although on Wednesday the company that produces the software for the program says the government’s option to use it has expired.
The province is apparently anticipating $70 million in revenue from photo radar fines annually, although ICBC and the RCMP say it will save money by reducing accidents, rather than generate revenue.
The registered owners of cars licensed in B.C. caught speeding by photo radar will be liable to fines up to $150, but the drivers of out of province vehicles won’t receive tickets.
Three Whistler councillors supported photo radar on a corridor-wide basis after a presentation by RCMP constable Ron Casey last week, but another calls it "a crock of shit."
Welcome to the photo radar debate; smile, you may be on camera.
The B.C. Day long weekend is traditionally one of the most dangerous of the year on B.C. highways, one reason the province has chosen to introduce it now. But unlike conventional radar, the RCMP want everyone to know where photo radar units are set up, so they will slow down.
"The thrust of photo radar is to slow people down, not to give out tickets," Casey told Whistler council last week. "If we cut the accident rate by 10 per cent we’ll save 50 lives."
But that didn’t convince Councillor Max Kirkpatrick, who suggested the presence of another RCMP vehicle on the highway would do as much to slow drivers down and be able to do other duties, such as respond to emergencies and pull over dangerous drivers.
Casey said that wasn’t the case, that traffic cops only spend about 30 per cent of their time doing traffic duty, the rest of the time is spent covering for other officers and responding to emergencies.
Photo radar will be set up in areas that have a history of accidents. The province is establishing a toll free number drivers will be able to call to find out where photo radar units are set up, so they will slow down through those dangers areas. RCMP are also telling radio stations where the units, in unmarked GMC Safari vans, are stationed so they can inform their listeners.
Casey told council Ontario’s photo radar program was set up to generate revenue, but failed. However, the introduction of photo radar coincided with a steep decline in the number of highway fatalities.
But there are a number of inequities with the system. For instance:
o A ticket will be mailed to the registered owner of a vehicle caught speeding. If it was the owner driving that person will be liable to a fine. But if someone other than the owner was driving the owner can nominate the other driver. If the nominated driver accepts responsibility that person is liable to a fine and assessed three driver penalty points.
o Out of province plates captured by photo radar will not be ticketed, at least not yet.
o Kirkpatrick, who owns a local car rental agency, said he’s been car rental agencies may not be allowed to accept foreign drivers licences.
Assuming it does go ahead, the photo radar program will provide extra police officers to the corridor, rather than taking away from existing staff.
Photo radar will be set up to have a minimum 10 km/h tolerance of the speed limit.