Capital Regional District directors support Malahat speed cameras – Times Colonist


The idea of putting speed cameras on the Malahat was endorsed by Capital Regional District directors on Wednesday.


Only Metchosin Mayor John Ranns voted against the idea, which will see the CRD ask the Cowichan Valley Regional District for its support in calling on the provincial government to install the cameras.


Chris Foord, vice-chairman of the CRD’s Traffic Safety Commission, which recommended the action, said the installation of speed cameras on the Malahat would ensure drivers get a ticket every time they speed, not just when they get caught.


“Using interval-based speed cameras is one way to try to contain the worst of the speed demons,” Foord said.


“Again, I guess from our standpoint it’s always the worst of the speed demons that go unchallenged right now unless there’s a police officer there to catch them at the time.


“I’m not sure why your right or my right to act that irresponsibly is more important than public safety.”


The new system, if installed, would be different from the photo-radar system scrapped by the B.C. Liberal government in 2001.


The interval cameras are automated and calculate speed based on the time it takes a vehicle to travel between two set points.


Anyone caught travelling the distance in less time than the allowable threshold would get a ticket sent in the mail.


“It makes sense to look at using new technology to advantage,” Foord said.


“Speed cameras are in use around the world. They started in Norway, I think, in 1988 and many jurisdictions [such as] France, Australia have used them to cut their death rates in half on the roads,” Foord told directors.


But Ranns said he doesn’t believe that the cameras ensure safe driving.


A key issue is what threshold is set as an acceptable speed over the limit, he said.


“If all you’re talking about is busting the guy with the Ferrari going over 40 k [kilometres an hour over the limit] and you set the threshold at that, OK, you get those. But that’s not what generally happens,” Ranns said.


“Generally that threshold is set so low that it captures people that are driving in a safe fashion.”


With a low threshold, Ranns said, it’s conceivable a whole line of cars could be driven at a safe speed and the drivers would be “totally unaware” they were exceeding the threshold until they get a ticket in the mail.


Speed limits in Europe are often more reasonable than on Vancouver Island and set at the 85th percentile of what motorists travel, Ranns said.


“I think you’ll find probably on the Island that speed limits are lower than just about anywhere,” Ranns said.


Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt said public safety has to be the paramount concern.


“We need to move into the 21st century, embrace traffic safety, realize that automobility is far from being some kind of God-given right and that it’s a privilege that operates by rules set by the province,” Isitt said.


“We’re asking for the province to embrace what our advisory body tells us is a best practice in traffic safety,” he said, adding that all information he has seen indicates lower speeds contribute to safety.


bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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