September 17th, 2013
Regina Leader-Post – Terrence McEachern
Drivers on Saskatchewan highways who choose to speed in construction zones will now be caught on camera after the province introduced photo imaging enforcement technology on Monday.
Darryl Hickie, MLA for Prince Albert-Carlton and chair of the Provincial Traffic Safety Committee, stressed that the increased enforcement isn’t a “cash grab” but rather a way to increase worker safety.
“Our only goal here is to motivate drivers to obey the law,” said Hickie, who made the announcement at a construction area on Highway 10 near Balgonie.
Still, revenue from tickets issued by photo enforcement will go to the province, he added.
The system includes a hand-held laser device, called a DragonCam, that records speed limits accompanied with a computer tablet. The tablet displays images of vehicles and their license plates that exceed a pre-set speed limit, explained Jon Butcher, vice-president of ACS Public Sector Solutions Inc., the company hired to supply the devices.
Vehicle images are verified, sent to the province and then to the Saskatchewan RCMP for processing and possibly the issuance of speeding tickets.
The two-person system will be operated by Saskatchewan’s Commissionaires, said Butcher.
Three mobile units will be randomly placed at different construction sites throughout Saskatchewan.
In November, the province increased fines for speeding in a 60-kilometre-per-hour construction zone. The base fine increased to $210 from $140 with drivers caught speeding 60 km/h over the limit fined additional $360. Even driving 10 km/h over the speed limit can result in a $300 fine.
The enforcement initiative is a $1.6-million, five-year pilot project. Hickie suggested photo enforcement could be expanded beyond construction zones in places like school zones. However, legislation would have to be changed to allow its expanded use, he said.
Hickie said the motivation for photo enforcement technology was the death of Ashley Richards, an 18-year-old construction flag person that was struck and killed by a motor vehicle on Highway 39 near Midale last August.
“From that tragic event, the premier (Brad Wall) asked questions. Can we do something better? Is there something we can do to ensure the safety of not just the drivers in the work zone but of course the people working in the work zone?” he said.
The incident resulted in Keith Dunford of Regina being charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing the death. Dunford’s matters are still before the court.
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