Having engaged in thousands of hours of traffic enforcement in a previous career, Mr. Kennair’s commentary (Gazette, June 3) certainly supports my experience, while exposing obvious shortfalls with the automated and impersonal enforcement conducted through use of a ‘machine’. With the absence of any “discretion” (which is an officer’s prerogative) and the vacuum of a “learning moment” (while an officer is describing your infraction) receiving a summons in the mail leaves most perplexed and uninformed. Instead of having the ability to contemplate all of the environmental and contextual circumstance of the event, folks understandably become resentful. The opportunity to educate and modify driver behaviour is missed.
In those years of law enforcement, I’d estimate that I educated as many drivers through discussion without a summons, as I did through discussion and the issuance of a summons. I am convinced, because of feedback received, that most, if not all, of those I spoke to about an indiscretion (with or without a summons) drove away giving the matter some serious deliberation. Those who drove away without a summons had an additional perspective to consider: an adult discussion about rules and driver responsibility. That can never be said about a summons received in the mail several days or weeks after the event. It’s simply too late at that point.
There are many reasons to conduct speed enforcement. There are equally as many reasons to enforce all other traffic violations in our city. Distracted driving and failing to stop when required are abundantly evident and serious public safety concerns. Abdicating all matters of traffic enforcement to automated systems that focus on speed or traffic lights misses the many other dangerous driving issues in St. Albert.
Unfortunately, our city has become dependent on revenue generated through automated speed enforcement. We now face the challenge of how to retain and improve enforcement practices while reducing the dependency on photo enforcement, specifically, the revenue. This transition will be compounded if we are no longer able to use the automated systems.
The issue deserves serious contemplation. It’s clear we need to focus on all manner of traffic infractions. I believe we should start by ensuring photo speed enforcement is focused only on those areas where no personal enforcement is reasonable (e.g. officer safety concerns) and a statistically demonstrated public safety issue is identified. We must re-examine the contractual agreements with the photo enforcement operators, in an effort to reduce the perception of ‘self serving’ income generation. The business of speed enforcement should not be influenced by revenue generation for private entities, but actual improvements to driver behaviour and education, and improved public safety.
Al Bohachyk, St. Albert