As a preface, if there is evidence that shows a traffic safety issue involving child safety in or near schools exits, it should be addressed.
When proposals on issues such as speed limits in school zones are brought forward by police the motivation is usually safety. The same cannot necessarily be said when such proposals originate with politicians. When politicians make such proposals, safety may be used as a facade to deflect the attention from the real objective which is often increased revenue.
Such may be the case with Sam Katz’s latest foray into “child safety”.
If this was a police initiative it would no doubt be backed by statistics about speeding in school zones, accidents in school zones, and injuries to children caused by speeding. If police suggested a change to the speed limits in school zones, politicians would demand such data to back up that position.
Sam’s proposal contains none of that. No facts, no data. Operational decisions are based on data, political decisions are based on politics.
At this point we don’t know if speeding in school zones is a major issue that requires a change in legislation. The data (if it exists) has not been shared. What we do know is that the proposed change in legislation requires action by the province. What better time to bring up what is on the surface a ‘motherhood and apple pie’ issue than during an election campaign. What provincial politician would want to be painted as being against protecting children? None that I know of in Manitoba.
At this point we don’t know whether safety in school zones is a bona fide issue, but what we do know is that Sam’s timing is strategically impeccable.
As well, photo radar revenue which has been static or perhaps even declining after the construction zone cash cow was milked dry over the past several years, would receive a huge, if short-term boost as drivers adjust to the new speed limits.
If the speed limit in school zones is reduced I predict a lot of “flashes” at 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM on weekends and during weekends and summer holidays as the mobile photo radar units are deployed close to elementary schools in residential communities. There is potential for revenue even if there are no kids around (the safety issues it is supposedly designed to address).
Even if there are no kids around the schools during the early morning or late evening hours on weekends or during the holidays, the photo radar cameras don’t know that (although presumably the operators do). The city’s ‘money printing machines’ ( photo radar units) will be on overtime if this proposed change becomes reality – and all in the name of protecting children.
I think we are about to be “Sammed” again.