Fuck Tory for asking for them, fuck Wynne for introducing legislation to re-allow them, and if they don’t stop it fuck the current gov’t too.
*Disclaimer—don’t take this as whiny speeder that’s sick of getting caught. I haven’t had a ticket in coming up 7 years. Instead take it as it is intended—a vehement disagreement with speed cameras, and in fact
revenue collection devices photographic enforcement as a whole.*
The intent is great. The intent is ALWAYS great. The intent in this case, is to make school zones safer for kids. I have two main problems, however, with the method chosen to do this.
1. Speed enforcement in general does fuck all. People tend to drive where they feel comfortable, not where some politician decides is best. Speed Cameras *may* be more effective because they don’t give any room for grey areas, however:
- The fines must be exorbitant to work, especially as there’s no points and no insurance impact due to not being able to identify the driver. (Predicted by some at $325 for 1-15km/h over the limit)
- The cameras simply can’t work unless you are (a) familiar with the are and where the cameras are, or (b) the cameras are marked.
- If they aren’t marked, odds are nobody notices and the city gets a nice fat load of cash—but doesn’t achieve the intended effect of slowing people down. If they are marked, people will probably pay attention but no revenue is generated. That’s fine by me. However I question the logic of spending ~$70,000 per unit (City of TO says it’s 4-month pilot which can’t legally issue tickets yet will cost $50k, a trial in Quebec recently came up with $70-100k a piece as the actual cost) on what effectively becomes a glorified speed bump if it’s actually effective. You know what else is effective? Much as I hate them, those bolt-down rubber speed bumps.
- Changing the road design has been found to be much more effective at reducing vehicle speeds. Add speed bumps. Paint on some parking spots to narrow the roadway. Add a bike lane or two. Make the stretch passing the school one-way. Add central dividers (kinda like pylons that are bolted down) to take away the extra width when cars are stopped on both sides of the road. None of that requires extensive road modifications... unless the road is due for resurfacing anyway.
- I happen to live across from a school. The problems I see are usually less speed and more people stopping on both sides of the street to let kids out (leaving only room for one vehicle to pass through, with poor visibility), people doing three-point turns instead of simply going around the block (news flash—kids aren’t exactly tall, and beltlines are only getting higher) etc. When there are kids present it’s pretty much impossible to go quickly anyways. When there aren’t... like in the middle of the night or the middle of summer... will the cameras be off? You bet your ass they won’t.
I just see no way for this to be justified. If it is effective in achieving their *stated* end goal, there was a way of doing it that doesn’t involve dumping cash on a bunch of
revenue collection safety cameras or pissing people off. If it doesn’t, what was the point.
THE THING TO DO TO PROMOTE SAFETY, EVEN IF YOU ARE CONVINCED THAT SPEED IS THE BIGGEST ISSUE, IS NOT TO SIMPLY ENFORCE AN ARTIFICIAL LIMIT IN DRACONIAN FASHION AND HOPE THAT DRIVERS WILL STILL NOTICE A KID RUNNING IN FRONT OF THEM WHILE THEY HAVE THEIR EYES GLUED TO THE SPEEDO. THE CORRECT COURSE OF ACTION IS TO MAKE THE SPEED LIMIT THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO ENFORCE THE NATURAL SPEED OF THE ROAD.
2. The language used in the legislation doesn’t just include “School Zones” but also “Community Safety Zones”. Doesn’t seem to be a problem, does it? Well, it is. There is no legal definition of a “Community Safety Zone”, which means this law, intended to keep the kids safe while preventing general money-grabbery, has a built-in loophole. The City can simply slap up those signs wherever it wants and install a revenue collection device. The first information I’d found was less alarming, saying that they would only be permitted in areas with limits of 50km/h or less. Still shitty, given that there are so many areas around the city that are way under limited. But less bad. Today I found a source that claimed they would be permitted on any road of 80km/h or less. Distinctly NOT a school zone, distinctly NOT a Community Safety Zone—yet. There’s nothing stopping THIS, legally, from being labeled a Community Safety Zone. That’s an 80 limit which even at that is underrated and regularly sees average traffic speed nudging 100 as long as it’s not peak traffic.
Various other notes.
- Biggest problem causing accidents currently: Distracted. Clearly we need to give drivers yet ANOTHER distraction then. Here, look at you sppedo all the way through the school zone so you don’t have to look at the kids. On a related note, there was an article posted here yesterday (I think? Day before?) about how your eyes actually work and how you miss seeing pedestrians or bikes even if you’re 100% attentive. Basically to avoid blurring your vision, the brain leaves out patches of information as you move your eyes—kinda like showing you still images instead of a video stream. Great idea, making someone have to jump back and forth from speedo to road all the time.
- One of the biggest things I see being spouted is that the odds of a collision being fatal are lower at lower speeds and this is why we must take $300 from everyone who goes over the limit by 1km/h. While it is absolutely true (not to mention pretty fucking obvious) that you are more likely to get killed when hit with a faster moving object, all other conditions being equal, I dispute that speed changes the probability of a collision much. If you were going slower you might have missed that kid that run out in front of you? Yeah, but you could very well have hit the one that ran out into the street just after you’d gone by. Not to sound cold, but an unpredictable action is just that. Unpredictable. All you can do is hit it less hard. Which frankly to me seems like a good target, but not one that should be the main focus. The main focus should be on reducing collisions, the secondary focus should be on reducing the severity. Using a very specific example because it’s the one that stares me in the face every day, I think the correct way to handle my local school zone would be (a) Central dividers. Cheap, but just tough enough that people won’t just run them over. This is probably enough for straight-up safety, as this removes the blind middle lane of traffic we get when cars stop on both sides. However it also causes residents who were simply passing through to get stuck in school traffic. It’s not a big deal to go around the block, but people being the idiots they are I’d predict drivers waiting and developing into a road rage scenario in a very bad location for one. So: (b) using the same cheap traffic dividers, neck off both ends of the school zone at the intersections. Make that stretch of road one-way, with one side for travel and one side for drop-offs. The fact that there is no longer a blind middle lane gives space to react to unpredictable kids, traffic can still pass, it isn’t the drop-offs themselves causing the blockage so people don’t get pissed off. (c) bolt down a couple speed bumps to keep the open lane relatively slow. End result of this is, there is a slow but flowing passage and protected drop off zone when there are kids there, and when there’s none there’s a nice clean lane with no speed bumps as well.
- Small towns looking for easy money? Bet on it.
- It’s pretty well documented the effects that red light cameras have. Reduction in t-bones, increase in rear-end collisions. Tell me you’re not going to have people going through these areas with speed cameras doing the same thing... noticing at the last second and nailing the brakes. I’m thinking of faux government dream “Community Safety Zones” more than School Zones for obvious reasons—the limits are higher and often far more under limited. But it still could happen in a school zone. And while it would probably take a couple outright assholes to do it, who would 100% deserve their $500 fine, the results could be a straight-up disaster. People tend to swerve when they can’t stop in time... regardless of what might be beside them.
TAKEAWAY: Engineering first, then enforcement. Either LISTEN to the engineers about what the limit should be, or TELL the engineers to design the road down to a certain limit. THEN knock yourself out doing your bullshit revenue collection devices... but you’ll find out pretty fast that you just wasted money on them.
I’ve spent way too much time on this. Smallbear out.