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Alberta makes sweeping changes to photo radar enforcement

(iStock Photo)

Alberta will phase out photo radar enforcement in certain areas of the province over the coming months

Province says municipalities must try different safety tools to curb speeding before turning to photo radar

The province is making big changes to how photo radar enforcement works in Alberta.

It will be phased out in certain areas over the coming months, Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney confirms.

“By April 2022, photo radar will not be allowed in areas that have rapid changes in speed, such as highway on/off ramps,” Sawhney said Wednesday.

“Photo radar will be prohibited on residential streets with speeds less than 50 kilometres per hour unless they are school or playground zones or construction zones.”

The province also says radar will not be allowed in school or construction zones if students or workers are not present. Drivers also won’t get multiple speeding tickets in a row if they get them within five minutes of each other.

“By next December all photo radar sites will be reassessed using new location criteria and data,” Sawhney said. “Municipalities and law enforcement will also need to try a different traffic safety tool to curb speeding before considering photo radar at a new location.”

Sawhney adds those tools could be anything from adding speed bumps to education, but it will ultimately be up to the municipality or law enforcement agency to decide what is best.

She also says all photo radar vehicles need to be more visible to motorists, referencing Edmonton’s bright yellow trucks that were introduced last year. Sawhney says any new radar locations have to be advertised online and on social media.

The government says it’s committing to ending ‘photo radar fishing holes’ or speed traps.

Justice Minister Kaycee Madu says many Albertans are unhappy with with the current photo radar rules.

“While there is scientific evidence that photo radar can lower collision rates, there are also a lot of drivers that feel that photo radar is being used more as a source of revenue than a safety tool,” Madu said. “In other words, that photo radar has largely become a cash grab.”

Madu says it was clear that the province needed to take a step back and reevaluate how the system works. He says the focus should be on safety, and claims these new changes will reflect that.

“Keeping our roads safe, improving driver behaviour and saving lives,” Madu said. “Any new photo radar locations would need to serve those goals first and foremost.”

The justice minister also says radar fines will still be a source of revenue for the province, but will no longer use tactics like speed traps.

It was two years ago that Alberta first put a freeze on adding new photo radar sites. That freeze is now extended into the new year, when the rules take effect.