Smile: you’re on Photo Radar (again)

Here in Toronto, Canada, there is a push to start up photo radar again.

It was used on highways several years ago, was hugely unpopular, and eventually scrapped. Now they want to bring it back, but with a twist:

It will be employed in school zones.

That sounds so impossible to oppose: don’t you want our school children to be safer?

One of the serious safety concerns for school zones is that parents block the street by parking illegally while waiting for pickup children. Other kids cross the street hidden by these parents’ cars – a significant additional risk. Nobody seems to have the cojones to address this problem.

Why I’m against using photo radar in school zones is based on how radar is used in school zones today.

The school zone is NOT patrolled during times of student arrival or departure. I live across from a school and have spoken to patrolling officers. I know what I am talking about.

One school zone is only patrolled on Sunday. Since the reduced speed limit is easily forgotten in the total absence of traffic, single cars are ticketed over and over with no safety benefit whatsoever.

The school zone across from me has not been patrolled in quite some time. I tried to explain to (patient, friendly) officers that a nearby school, on a lower speed limit road, was much more of a car-student hazard due to the curving street, shortening driver and student sight-lines. Amazingly, the radar effort did move to that road.

What happens in front of my house with radar is legal but annoying. Mothers arriving home at six o’clock experience a downhill, wide road with no other traffic and no pedestrians. So they accidentally increase speed, and get ticketed – for the record, in a school zone. But school has been out for 2.5 hours.

Photo radar is, imho, a cheap way to issue tickets. That’s OK if the usual ‘tolerance factors’ are applied. But don’t pretend you’re protecting school children if you’re not there when they are.

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