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EDITORIAL: Slow down and smile for the cameras

A stationary traffic enforcement camera is shown.
A stationary traffic enforcement camera is shown. - 123RF Stock Photo

When photo radar happens in this province, we won’t be able to say that we weren’t warned.

Because if the province’s pilot study on speeding in road construction sites is anything to go by, we’re not paying much attention to either the rules or to current enforcement methods. And the list of other options is running out.

Last fall, the provincial government hired three companies to use photo radar to analyze what has become an obvious problem: that a large proportion of drivers don’t bother to slow and obey speed limits in construction sites.

The study is a sobering one: the companies looked at a variety of construction sites on the TransCanada Highway, near the Veteran’s Memorial Highway, and along Route 420 to Jackson’s Arm with three different types of equipment.

On Route 420, out of 1,915 vehicles that passed the testing equipment, 912 were travelling at more than 10 km/h above the posted 50 km/h limit (48 per cent). On Veteran’s Memorial and other nearby highway, 16,378 vehicles passed the equipment, with more than 9,000 travelling at more than 10 km/h above the speed limit. Some 20 per cent of vehicles (1,999 out of 9,663) on the TransCanada sped through the posted construction zones.

You can say what you like about construction zones: that sometimes, the signs are up even when no one’s working. That some signs are left long after workers have left, while others are toppled over or turned around, so it’s hard to know what you’re supposed to be doing.

But the cold, hard numbers clearly show that drivers regularly disregard posted speed limits — with a significant number of drivers travelling at as much as 90 to 99 km/h more than the 50 km/h limit.

Think about how terrifying those numbers, and the attendant hazards, are to construction workers and their families.

Face it: we’re doing it, and we’re not stopping.

The last few sentences of the report carry the clearest warning of what’s coming: “In some jurisdictions, technologies of this kind have been deployed to deter speeding by linking speed monitoring with automatic ticketing of offending motorists. Implementing a solution of this nature in Newfoundland and Labrador would involve a coordinated effort … In particular, a number of legislative, policy and program amendments would be required in order to enable this form of enforcement.”

Want us to read between those lines?

If drivers don’t start obeying speed limits in construction zones, we’re likely to see photo radar come to town — photo radar, by the way, that would have written 11,904 speeding tickets this past fall.

In just 16 days.

You can only imagine what a boon that would be for the provincial treasury. You can almost smell the delight the government will take in combining the need for safety with a brand new revenue stream.

Related story:

Nearly half of vehicles going through N.L. construction zones are speeding: report

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