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).
An anti-photo radar group is holding two rallies this weekend to draw attention to the fact that amber lights at two Winnipeg intersections are shorter than the city’s minimum of 4 seconds.
WiseUpWinnipeg.com says that despite the lights being shortened, tickets are still being given out. Retired Winnipeg police officer Larry Stefaniuk claims the city is aware of the mechanical problem, but has failed to address it.
In the end, it’s a safety issue and to raise awareness to that, WiseUpWinnipeg will hold pro-safety rallies at the following locations:
Saturday, October 24 from 2-3 p.m. at the southeast corner of Henderson and Gilmore.
Sunday, October 25 from 2-3 p.m. at the southeast corner of Marion and Dufresne.
Sign-holding WiseUpWinnipeg members will form a line bordering the road leading up to the camera intersections, advising motorists that they are approaching a photo- enforcement intersection as well as signs indicating it to be a shortened amber intersection. Another 600 signs will also be given out to the public.
Earlier this month, a member of the group was put in the back of a police cruiser and questioned for holding up a sign warning motorists of a photo-radar camera. Police cited it was an obstruction of justice, but later said they will not take action against individuals who hold up signs in the future.
A group that warns motorists of photo radar locations had a run-in with Winnipeg police Tuesday morning on Ness Avenue.
Members of WiseUpWinnipeg.com had set up signs to warn motorists of an upcoming photo radar vehicle, but were warned by police that a charge of obstruction of justice could be brought forward for doing so.
Retired Winnipeg police officer Larry Stefaniuk — who spearheaded the website — said such a charge doesn’t make sense. Speaking with CBC News, Stefaniuk said, “From what I can understand, that would only come into play if somebody was standing in front of the radar unit, preventing it from actually performing its duties or say, if an officer was set up doing radar and somebody was acting in a manner that would prevent them from taking radar readings or laser readings.”
Last Saturday, WiseUpWinnipeg.com gave away dozens of free signs to motorists at the corner of Bishop Grandin Boulevard and St. Mary’s Road to help warn other drivers of upcoming speed traps.