Winnipeg residents strongly support red light photo enforcement: TIRF

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OTTAWA, May 26, 2010 2010 – A public opinion poll on Winnipeg�s photo enforcement safety program reveals a clear majority of residents are concerned about drivers running red lights and support photo enforcement.

As part of an ongoing study, people in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (Winnipeg CMA) were polled on various aspects of road safety including their level of concern for drinking and driving, running red lights and speeding.

“The levels of public concern about road safety in general and the specific road safety issues that are the focus of this particular study are in line with levels of public concern coming from other independent sources”, says Ward Vanlaar, lead researcher and Vice President, Research at the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF).

The actual percentage of respondents reporting concern about road safety (54% reported being very or extremely concerned about road safety) is indicative of road safety being considered a mid-level priority to the public.

When looking at specific road safety issues, the public is particularly concerned about drinking and driving (89%) and a clear majority (78%) is also concerned about running red lights. Slightly fewer people reported high levels of concern about speeding (60%).

Moreover, the photo enforcement program garners rather high levels of support among people from the Winnipeg CMA. About 80% think the photo enforcement safety program makes the public more aware of the issue of speeding, 81% support the continuation of the photo enforcement safety program and 71% believe the program helps improve road safety in Winnipeg. Even among those who have previously been caught for speeding and received a ticket, the level of support for the continuation of the program is still high at about 74%.

Vanlaar notes, “Virtually everybody seems to be aware of Winnipeg’s photo enforcement safety program. When asked whether they knew about the program, about 95% confirmed they did.”

While some have raised concerns about the effectiveness of photo enforcement programs, a review of the literature, completed in 2009, shows that there is ample evidence that photo enforcement does have an overall positive effect. These include studies completed in Ontario, California, Virginia, British Columbia, Arizona, Singapore, and Victoria, Australia.

“Many of the studies we reviewed found significant decreases in average speed, speeding violations, red light running violations, speeding collisions, and right-angle crashes, with some studies finding minor increases in rear-end crashes, which are often much less severe than right-angle crashes,” explains Vanlaar.

Overall, these studies also suggest that photo enforcement is effective in reducing many of the social and economic consequences related to speeding and red light running, especially when coupled with public awareness campaigns.

Researchers and officials would also like to remind residents that despite delays the project is progressing well. Deliverables such as the results from the public opinion poll and the literature review are final and not preliminary results.

“Project delays have been due to technical challenges, which is not uncommon for comprehensive evaluations of this size and magnitude,” explains Patrol Sergeant Kirk Van Alstyne of the Winnipeg Police Service. “More specifically, delays were unavoidable as we increased the number of intersections with cameras to enable researchers to collect baseline data at intersections before cameras were installed in order to increase the rigorousness of the evaluation.”

As part of the impact evaluation that is ongoing, time series analyses of collision data will enable the City to gauge the long term effects of the Winnipeg photo enforcement safety program on traffic safety in Winnipeg. In addition to the time series, roadside survey data continue to be collected. The study also includes a process evaluation with in-depth interviews with key staff of the Winnipeg Police Service.

“The evaluation of the program is two-pronged,” says Vanlaar. “The impact evaluation of the program looks at the outcomes of the program and the process evaluation determines how well the program is executed. This will provide us with a well-rounded account of the strengths, possible weaknesses and potential improvements to the photo enforcement safety program in Winnipeg.”

Results from the public opinion poll are based on a survey developed and conducted by TIRF. A total of 750 drivers from the Winnipeg CMA completed the poll in May of 2009. Based on a sample of this size, on average, the results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 3.6%, 19 times out of 20.

About TIRF

Established in 1964, TIRF�s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit us online at www.tirf.ca.