Last Site Update March 29, 2007
Welcome to Scamera
Our goals are: to have the laws regarding photo enforcement removed from the highway traffic act or, at a minimum, have strong restrictions and controls placed on their usage and to make sure the program is accountable and information is presented in meaningful and unbiased manner. We hope to have Winnipeg's photo enforcement contract expire at its completion in April 2007 and not be renewed. We will promote alternative safety measures, infrastructure improvements, and help inform our elected officials.
We are all for safe and efficient infrastructure, but against making law enforcement a "profit center" for various organizations including the Winnipeg police. We will also expose, some of the incorrect and misleading facts that are so often promoted by photo enforcement advocates. We will also expose the myths that surround this technology and its impact on all drivers.
Photo enforcement seems like a good idea ticket every offence no matter how minor and change driving habits across the city. The problem is that this does not represent reality or the facts. Proponents of photo enforcement promote the safety gains, but in reality the safety gains in all but a few isolated case are a wash or negatively effect the safety of the driving public. What is also not promoted is that in most cases the violation or collisions can be reduced though proper engineering/re-engineering and maintenance of the roads and intersections. Often things as simple and inexpensive as lengthening of a yellow light cycle show better results then photo enforcement when it comes to violation reduction and safety, what's worse is many contracts disallow these types of changes . Studies done in Michigan, Virginia, and elsewhere show that simple low cost engineering solutions can perform better and even completely remove the need for camera enforcement. Dozen of other studies dating back to 1995 show little to no improvements, with many showing reduced safety.
Prior to installation of intersection cameras in Winnipeg there were no reviews of the intersections chosen, no checks to see if there is a problem to begin with, no checks on properly set speed limits, light timing, etc....No formal review at all. The police have completely failed to show/prove a need for this technology. As for photo radar, the provincial government did not pass a school zone speed reduction bill in 1995, the reason was there was no need, because there was no evidence that there was a safety issue. Over the past year, the city has decided to deploy more photo radar in stead of intersection cameras because they generate more revenue, they have also had the province increase speeding penalties by almost 50% to increase the amount brought in by each offence, and Consoler Gord Steves in an interview has admitted that the program is about money “We’ve spent a lot of time over the last five years trying to spin this like [photo radar cameras and revenues for city hall] aren’t related. They certainly are related.”
From the beginning many statements released by the police or posted on the Safe Streets web site have been misleading or down right false. Despite numerous attempts to have this information corrected, most of this information is still being disseminated or remains posted on their web site. The Safe Streets web site clearly indicates one of the programs primary goals: "This is our objective: Put photo enforcement out of business!" By definition having an objective entails some sort of benchmark or defined end as you can never reach a goal or objective if you do not know what it is. So I contacted the police with regards to what the criteria for discontinuance of the program was. It turns out that they do not even have a set of conditions under which this could happen and they also indicated that it was not their decision to make!
Does the city not have an obligation to the public do what it can to reduce violations and collisions before using zero tolerance enforcement techniques? Do the police not have an obligation to stop a dangerous drivers before they go on to hurt or kill someone somewhere else? A picture can not prevent a collision; a police officer can. The police department should be adding more traffic enforcement officers not reassigning them as they are presently doing.
If the city and the police are truly interested in safety an not just the money, I challenge them to put in proper controls (show need, results, accountability, etc.), reengineer intersections prior to adding photo enforcement, and have all proceeds after operating costs go to health care, schools or any unrelated cause. Until the advent of photo enforcement, officers on patrol used their judgment to determine whether, an offence warranted a ticket. Now, thanks to technology, those judgment calls are replaced by violations measured in tenths of a second. If the police/city do not profit from the technology, you will not see an interest in its use.
Today it is red light running and speed, how soon until the film cameras are upgraded to digital or video? How long until we are being sent tickets for not wearing a seat belt, talking on a cell phone, following to close, missing plugging the parking meter by 1 second, having our license plates scanned automatically and checked against different government data basis, or worse? How about using automated face recognition on busy streets to track or Identify people? Maybe some day the technology will track certain visible minorities to protect us from the threat of terrorism. All these technologies and more are here to day and in use in different countries. What is the difference between these technologies and red light cameras? Nothing, just the desire on the government's part to use them.
Please take some time view our site. If you agree in general with the position we have taken, please sign our petition which will be presented to both the provincial government which controls the highway traffic act, and the city, which, of course, runs the program. If you have any information, links to web sites or personal experience with the system, or would like to help out in some way please e-mail us. In the contact section of this web site there are also links to city and provincial officials who would be delighted to here from you.