A man has been charged for allegedly threatening the driver of a photo radar vehicle in the city’s North End.
Winnipeg police say on January 19, a man driving a Ford F-250 pickup truck pulled in front of a mobile photo enforcement vehicle in the area of McGregor Street and Anderson Avenue. The man is said to have made contact with the radar equipment, but didn’t cause any damage.
According to police, the man exited his vehicle and began yelling obscenities at the radar operator. The suspect drove off, but came back moments later where he drove into oncoming traffic and pinned his vehicle against the operator’s driver side door. Before leaving the scene, the suspect yelled at the operator again and allegedly threatened him.
A 49-year-old man was arrested in the same area on January 31 is facing charges of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, driving imprudently and obscuring his licence plate.
Accidents are up 18% at intersections where red-light cameras are installed, according to newly-released data.
The Winnipeg Sun broke the story on the shocking statistics late Wednesday, which back up the claim that the cameras are not for safety, but merely a cash grab. It’s not the first time that statement has been made. The group Wise Up Winnipeg has been against red-light cameras from the very beginning, as well as many motorists who have been calling for them to be removed.
Mayor Sam Katz responded to the data Thursday, saying his first duty of the day was to speak with police Chief Keith McCaskill and get an explanation. Despite the new information, Katz defended the usage of red-light cameras in Winnipeg.
The data — compiled by Manitoba Public Insurance — shows the number of claims made at intersections where the original 12 cameras were installed in 2003 have increased.
Mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis took the opportunity to weigh in on the issue herself Thursday afternoon during a scrum at her campaign headquarters. The former NDP MP said the red-light cameras shouldn’t be scrapped completely, but the city should review their policy on what could be done better. She also added that if elected on October 27, she would look at the idea of adding an additional second to amber lights at intersections with the cameras. A number of anti-red-light camera groups have said the extra second is critical in reducing the number of collisions where cameras are present.
MPI’s data doesn’t measure up to the numbers the Winnipeg Police Service provides, showing accidents have decreased. The data police collect is from when motorists call for assistance after getting into an accident, but police are not always needed when an accident occurs, thus going unreported.
The MPI data shows in 2003 there were 204 collisions at the 12 intersections in question, compared to an average of 241 annually between 2004 and 2009.
One of the most dangerous intersections with the most collision claims made was the corner of Talbot Avenue and Watt Street, showing an average of 25 accidents the first year the red-light camera went into operation. That number rose to 42 collisions in 2008 and dipped slightly to 40 in 2009.
A release from the Winnipeg police shared their own data at the intersections, which shows right angle collisions were down 64.9% between 2002 and 2008, as well as injuries (down 77.8%) and injuries related to rear-end collisions (down 11.8%). Rear-end collisions, on the other hand, have risen by 1.6%. Right angle collisions are those associated with running a red light or speeding in an intersection.
Anti photo radar advocates will host a free public event today on why red light cameras and photo radar vans should be abolished in Manitoba.
Recently, the state of Georgia put an end to their photo enforcement program and found accidents decreased because of it. Organizers in Manitoba hope Georgia State Representative Barry D. Loudermilk can offer some insight to the success of his state’s decision on the cameras when he speaks to the crowed later this morning.
Wise Up Winnipeg is putting on the event and has invited the City of Winnipeg, the Province of Manitoba and red light camera operator, ACS, to the public debate on photo enforcement.
The event begins at 10 a.m. in the Provencher Ballroom at the Fort Garry Hotel.
A few dozen supporters came together over the weekend at pro-safety rallies put on by WiseUpWinnipeg.com. The anti-photo radar group held up signs to warn drivers at two busy intersections to slow down and avoid getting a ticket. Organizers say the amber lights are shorter than they should be at both locations and it’s a safety hazard to motorists.
Larry Stefaniuk(above) is a retired Winnipeg police officer and organized the event along with Todd Dube(below).