WATCH: Province temporarily freezes purchase of new photo radar equipment

Last year photo radar generated $220 million in 2016-17 and shouldn’t be a hidden tax, says the Alberta government.

The government of Alberta put a temporary freeze on new photo radar devices while it consults with municipalities and police on the future of photo radar.

Effective Dec. 1, 2019, municipalities and police agencies will not be able to install new or upgraded photo radar devices or deploy existing photo radar equipment to new locations. The freeze will be in place while the government works to refine rules for photo radar site selection, operational restrictions and data collection.

“Our goal is to ensure photo radar is used for safety, not to generate backdoor tax revenue,” said Ric McIver, Minister of Transportation.

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“Albertans are skeptical about the impact photo radar has on safety and we do not have useful data to analyze so we can make a decision. Alberta has three times as many photo radar units per capita as British Columbia but our roads are not meaningfully safer. A temporary freeze means municipalities and police cannot purchase or install new and costly equipment while we work with them to build better oversight and reporting on the effectiveness of photo radar.”

Likewise, Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, said traffic tickets should help increase public safety and not be used to generate revenue.

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“We are conducting this review because Albertans need to have confidence that photo radar is an effective way to keep people safe. I look forward to working with the minister of transportation to understand the value of photo radar and see if it’s worth preserving.”

An independent, third-party review of photo radar completed in September 2018 found that data is limited and inconsistent. The review indicated better data collection and reporting requirements are needed to ensure photo radar is used to maximize safety, not revenue.

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The review also found that photo radar operations in Alberta showed only a marginal contribution to traffic safety, despite Alberta having the highest number of photo radar devices per capita compared to other provinces.

Alberta has a long history with photo radar; the first units were introduced in 1988. Currently, 27 Alberta municipalities have photo radar programs.

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