Traffic controls exist for safety, not cash

At a recent Lacombe council meeting where council reviewed reports from the new automated speed enforcement camera


At a recent Lacombe council meeting where council reviewed reports from the new automated speed enforcement camera operating in Lacombe, Mayor Steve Christie divulged that residents have complained about the program to the City, saying it is just a ‘cash cow’.

I get annoyed when I hear things like this in relation to ticketing. Photo radar is just used to make money, speed limits are changed and intersections controlled so police can write more tickets, police write more tickets at the end of the month because they are short on their quotas, et cetera, et cetera.

All of it is complete bogus.

First of all, the Lacombe Police  Service does not set ticketing quotas for officers and hasn’t for a long time, if they ever did. If you don’t believe me, ask Police Chief Steve Murray, who will tell you he has never heard of officers having quotas in his 17-year tenure with the LPS. If you ask Blackfalds RCMP Detachment Commander Ken Morrison, he will also tell you that the Blackfalds RCMP do not set ticketing quotas for their officers.

Believing that traffic restrictions, like speed limits and traffic lights, are put in place to allow police to write more tickets is also absurd for a number of reasons. Not the least of which being that most police officers don’t actually enjoy writing tickets.

Why? Because then police officers have to deal with someone they have just given a ticket to and no one (myself included) enjoys getting a ticket. People also have a tendency to behave somewhat, let’s say rudely, when they are ticketed.

Some people also tend to forget that the police officers and councillors who set speed limits and traffic controls are drivers who have to obey them too. Why would they advocate for traffic limitations that aren’t necessary and inconvenience themselves as well?

Using photo radar or automated speed enforcement as a way to make money is ludicrous too. Yes, the money from those tickets goes to the municipality (in fact, funds from any ticket written by a law enforcement officer goes to the municipality for wherever the ticket was written) but that doesn’t mean it’s an efficient way to raise municipal funds.

Quarterly reports from Lacombe’s Automated Traffic Enforcement Program showed that in 11 hours, 45 tickets were issued to drivers on 54 Ave. between 49 St. and 47 St. In the same amount of time, zero tickets were issued to drivers on C&E Trail between 50 Ave. and 55 Ave., and on 58 St. between 50 Ave. and C&E Trail.

If the City only wanted to raise money, why waste time enforcing speeds where they aren’t issuing tickets? Why not only enforce speeds on the most ticketed routes, like 50 Ave. between 63 St. and C&E Trail, where the most tickets (633 in 41 hours) were issued?

There is a simple answer – because that’s not the point. Traffic controls, tickets and police officers don’t exist to punish people, they exist to keep people safe.

When people don’t obey traffic laws, driving becomes unsafe. Police try to correct this issue by prevention – what can we do so that people won’t want to speed here? – and education – let’s tell people why they shouldn’t speed here.

If those two strategies fail, police fall on the third one, enforcement. That means people have still chosen an unsafe practice – speeding – and now there must be some consequences for that action.

A lot of people choose not to believe it, but the goal of enforcing the rules is to not have to write tickets at all. Because if no one is writing tickets, then everyone is following the rules. And if the rules have been set up properly, that means everyone is safe.