May 30, 2001

VANCOUVER – Nearly six years after the NDP first announced plans for photo radar, Premier–elect Gordon Campbell made it very clear that he will stand by his word and photo radar will soon be history in BC. Tuesday’s announcement laid to rest recent speculation that the commitment would be diluted or softened by allowing photo radar to operate in another form throughout cash hungry BC municipalities.

Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen and Vancouver Police head of traffic enforcement Inspector Ken Davies can take part of the credit for the final killing of photo radar with their strategic blunder in trying to push the issue in recent days. The real victory, however, belongs to the people of BC.

“Photo radar represented everything we felt was wrong with the previous government in BC,“said SENSE Executive Director Ian Tootill.” It was an invasion of privacy by big government, a giant waste of money, and was an ineffective, heavy handed and arbitrary program with no safety benefits. We faced very stiff opposition from an extremely well funded spin machine that included the NDP, ICBC, BCAA, and other stakeholders. This victory is proof that citizens at a grass roots level can still make a difference if they set their minds to it and show tenacity and patience. We want to thank the many volunteers and concerned citizens who donated their time and financial support in helping SENSE to get to this point."

The new government will have a lot of work to do in order to provide meaningful improvements for road safety and improve the public perception that much of BC traffic enforcement has been revenue motivated.

Michael Cain, SENSE Director of Research said, “we urge the new government to adopt the changes as outlined in the SENSE response to Attorney General’s Traffic Services Study last year. These recommendations include improved driver training, an independent review and correct setting of speed limits on BC roadways, “keep right except to pass” legislation, prima facie speed limits, and mandatory pull outs for slow moving vehicles on highways to reduce road rage, among other recommendations.”

ICBC, who paid a substantial part of the $100 million cost of photo radar out of insurance premiums, has been uncharacteristically silent in recent months on photo radar. While a detailed analysis of motor vehicle fatalities should dispel any notion that photo radar has saved lives, ICBC’s unwillingness to defend photo radar confirms the lack of tangible safety benefits.

Prior to photo radar, two–thirds of traffic tickets were issued for speeding. Photo radar pushed that figure up to 85%. Even ICBC research shows a startling number of poorly enforced offences to be far more predictive of dangerous driving. Getting police back into traffic and intersections and out from photo radar vans and laser guns will have tangible safety benefits.