By Roger Currie
Is it a well deserved concern about the safety of our children that causes us to lighten the wallets of motorists who are caught speeding in school zones, or it simply a cash grab? Police departments will never admit to the latter, but as municipalities are hammered by the rising cost of policing, they must inevitably find ways to generate more revenue.
It was less than a year ago that Winnipeg finally went after school zone speeders in a big way, and it has paid off big time. Total revenue from all speeding tickets in the city in 2014 was more than $14 million, an increase of 25% over the year before. That works out to $22 for everyone who lives in Winnipeg. Almost all of the additional money came from tickets that were handed out near schools.
The speed limit is 30 km/h, and it’s enforced in every month except July and August. This past week, when school hadn’t even started in Manitoba, some Winnipeg motorists were being tapped with a $300 ticket in a school zone. The chair of the Winnipeg School Board would like to see enforcement 24/7, 365 days a year. Mark Wasyliw says there hasn’t been one serious accident in a school zone since the 30 km/h limit has been enforced.
It’s interesting to compare with what’s happening in Saskatchewan. In Regina, the speed limit in school zones has been 40 km/h for as long as anyone can remember. It is enforced every day of the year, between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Regina police use radar and cameras, and they have many warning signs on the streets. If you’re caught, you’ll pay $190 plus an additional $2 for every kilometre over the limit.
More power to any effort to prevent a tragedy involving a young child. But if cities need the money to balance their books, they should be prepared to admit it.
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Roger Currie is a writer, storyteller, voice for hire, observer of life on the Canadian prairies, and can be heard on CJNU 93.7FM in Winnipeg.