By on January 25, 2011

Unable to verify the accuracy of certain speed camera readings, the government of Alberta, Canada announced Monday that it would issue full refunds to motorists. Doubt surrounds speeding citations issued from any of the forty-seven red light camera intersections in the city of Edmonton under a program known as “speed on green.” The refunds cover automated tickets mailed between November 2009 and January 14, 2011.

“This is the right action to take,” Minister of Justice and Attorney General Alison Redford said in a statement. “Our first concern is the fair administration of justice, and we cannot proceed with legal action when there is doubt about the accuracy of the city’s speed on green ticket technology.”

Edmonton Police Service officials have not disclosed the precise cause of inaccurate speed readings, but they admitted the automated ticketing machines generated at least twenty-six bogus readings. The problem was discovered when prosecutors examined a ticket claiming a vehicle was traveling at 143km/h (89 MPH) on Yellowhead Trail — along with every other vehicle on the road.

Although 141,729 tickets worth about $17 million were generated, only 102,700 worth $12.3 million have been paid. The profit is split between the city, the for-profit vendor, and the province which takes about 17 percent.

Despite the significant pricetag of paying back the fines, the Edmonton incident is far from the largest photo ticketing refund on record. In July 2003, a speed camera in Victoria, Australia accused motorist Vanessa Bridges’ 1975 Datsun 120Y of driving at 98 MPH, setting off a chain reaction of events that ultimately cost the state government A$26 million in refunds. Even after the thirty-year-old Datsun was tested and found to be capable of reaching speeds no greater than 73 MPH, police dug in their heels and insisted the photo enforcement system was accurate and that Bridges’ fine would stand. Intense publicity arising out of her case, however, forced an investigation into the cameras on the Western Ring Road. Independent testing showed faulty in-ground sensors and electromagnetic interference had been responsible for generating bogus speed readings. The government had no choice but to cancel 165,000 camera tickets.

Last year, police in Victoria, Australia admitted accuracy problems had surfaced again on the Hume Highway as the clocks used by average-speed cameras became unsynchronized. So far, officials have refused to provide refunds while a formal review is conducted. A report on the incident is expected within a week.

[Courtesy:Thenewspaper.com]

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20 Comments on “Alberta, Canada Cancels 141,729 Photo Tickets...”


  • avatar
    jimboy

    This is totally awesome! I just got 4 photo radar tickets last year, totalling nearly 500 bucks. I should get at least some of it back. (photo radar is strictly a revenue enhancer, it has nothing to do with safety)

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Alberta: Canada’s most sensible province.

    • 0 avatar
      jimboy

      I’d agree.

    • 0 avatar
      mhadi

      Before you get all jubilant, remember there is a one month moratorium on photo radar until the sort out the glitches. It’s coming back, so be prepared, or pay up.

    • 0 avatar
      Contrarian

      I guess we have Redflex/ATS trolls in here now.

    • 0 avatar

      We’re also the only province in Canada to have a flat provincial income tax pegged at 10%. All other provinces have income tax that increases as income increases, like the federal one. What a wonderful place we live in.
      Self-congratulations aside, a move like this is only realistic because Alberta became a debt-free province in 2004. Provinces or States burdened by debt would probably be less likely to give back the money they so desperately need.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Contrarian: Agreed.

      @dushenski: Wow.  I now like Alberta even more than I did during my only visit back in 1998.  I must return someday. Sadly, the US will never have a flat tax (10% is a nice rate) due to all the special interests baked into our tax code. Ours is far too high at the top, far too low at the bottom, and filled with enough deductions and loopholes to keep every politician happy.

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    What’s “speed on green”?

    • 0 avatar
      jimboy

      Similar to a red light camera, if you’re clocked at a certain speed going through a green light, probably 10 km. (approx. 6 mph.) over the posted limit, a camera takes a photo and you’re ticketed for speeding. For some reason they don’t ticket you when you’re 20 km. under the limit, with traffic backed up behind you; Ergo my comment vis a vis safety versus revenue. Unfortunately in Edmonton, if you drive at the posted limit, you are forced to stop at every red light on your route. Timing is set up so that you can’t get though more than one intersection at a time by driving the posted speed. This effectively doubles both your travel time and gas consumption, as you sit at endless red lights.

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      Thanks!

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Why not going a few logical steps further and jail those responsible for the whole plot – for fraud and make them responsible for / bear costs of “rebates”?
    Especially since these rebates come from the same pocket of the public (taxes) and I am pretty sure the private thief, sorry, camera operator did not return any funds. As long as a crime committed by a government  or a politician(s) is considered as “error”, rot will continue.
    Just dreaming…

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    I was excited there for a second….thought Calgary might be included. Gotta say though. Alberta rocks. I remember when a Manitoba court ruled that the City of Winnipeg had no right to ticket people in unmanned construction zones to which Winnipeg replied “If you did not pay your ticket, then we will cancel it. If you paid, you admited guilt so no refund for you. You plead guilty.”

    • 0 avatar

      From the article, it seems Edmonton was the only city to use this ‘speed on green’ program – they aren’t refunding the red light tickets, just the speeding tickets generated by the red light camera. By the way, when I was last in Calgary (2006 or so) I don’t remember seeing a single red light camera. Lots in Edmonton, though.

    • 0 avatar
      frizzlefry

      They are all over the place in calgary. We are up to 47 now. Red and speed on green. Wonder why ours work and Edmonton’s does not….apparently.

  • avatar
    Steinweg

    I’m sure I’ll get shouted at – I always get shouted at on the interwebs – but I’d just like to say once and for the last time that the obsessing about red light cameras and speed traps is getting dull. I don’t give a flying fig which county where is or is not installing or ripping down cameras, doubling or refunding fines, or being sued over same. I think “TTAAL” – “The Truth About Administrative Law” is probably the right forum for this whingeing.

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    Well since $17 million worth of tickets have been wiped out, city taxes for Edmonton will have to increase by roughly $5.7 million to make up for the loss in revenue. The province will also lose $5.7 million in revenue and incur expenses to process the refunds.

    • 0 avatar
      jimboy

      They could easily make up the shortfall by actually ENFORCING the current laws, by using traffic police. I see hundreds of infractions every day on the roads, illegal u-turns, failure to signal, either a turn or a lane change, tailgating, obstructing traffic, non-functional brake lights, refusing to yield  the right of way, not to mention the other hundreds of people texting, talking on their phones, yelling at their kids in the back seat, telling their life story to the passenger  beside them, all blissfully unaware of literally everything going on around them. And they all seem so SURPRISED when something bad happens to them, well, duh! Driving is a privilege, NOT a right, so learn how to do it properly. There are no accidents, only stupid/lazy/uneducated drivers. P.S. I blame our government for that, too!

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