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Calgary police nab 850 speeders during 1st month of 'Speed-on-green'

CALGARY - In their first month in service, new speed-on-green cameras have nabbed about 850 speeding drivers doing an average 27 km/h over the limit, according to new data released Thursday by the Calgary Police Service.

Speeders caught driving 27 km/hoverthe limit will get a $161 ticket in the mail.

Police said they expanded the number of intersections that snap photographs of speeding vehicles from two in March--when police were just issuing warnings -- to three in April, when they started giving out fines.

Staff Sgt. Brett Marklund had estimated there would be about 1,100 tickets issued in the first month, given that only two cameras managed to issue warnings to 700 drivers. It's small comfort that fewer people than expected were caught speeding, he said.

"That's still 850 people doing well in excess of the limit," said Marklund.

He said what worries him most are the larger tickets, such as people going 120--130 km/h in a 70 km/h zone.

"That is frightening." Scott Hennig, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said speed-on-green cameras have the potential to become a "giant cash cow."

His organization does not oppose them outright, but said police have to set clear targets in reducing collisions and speeding to help justify the cost of the tickets.

"If they don't see this type of reduction, remove them," said Hennig.

Professional ticket fighters say complaints about the speed-on-green tickets have yet to materialize.

"I haven't seen a one yet," said Pointts Traffic Ticket Specialists president Charlie Pester

Dennis Young, president of fightthatticket.com said he toohasn't yet seen a ticket come in, likely because it costs more to fight them than it does to pay the fines. He also noted that the tickets don't add de-merit points to a speeding driver's record. But he disagrees philosophically with the concept behind photo radar--that the owner of a vehicle gets fined without proof the one being punished is the same motorist who was behind the wheel at the time of the infraction.

He's frustrated the concept behind photo radar has expanded to red-light cameras and, now, the speed-on-green tickets.

"It's the expansion of this principle that,'We don't have to prove your guilt,' " said Young.

Ald. Andre Chabot said he hopes the tickets improve driver behaviour.

"Hopefully, it will result in increased compliance by hitting people in the pocketbook," said Chabot.

Police say they've implemented the new technology with safety in mind. Speeding decreases reaction time in a collision and creates greater force at the time of the crash, Marklund said.

"There is no way to sugarcoat it: speed is a factor in every collision," said Marklund.

"People who speed are going to get caught. They need to slow down before something more than a ticket happens to them,"Marklund said.

Calgary police nab 850 speeders during 1st month of 'Speed-on-green'
 
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