Canada: Speed Limit Signs Inadequate Near Camera Trap
Activists in Winnipeg, Canada yesterday charged city leaders with using photo radar to exploit a hard-to-see sign used to provide notice of a change in the speed limit. To make its case, WiseUpWinnipeg broke out a copy of the official regulations governing signs, the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Device (MUTCD) for Canada, to determine whether the speed limit signs were placed in accordance with national standards. The group concluded that several of the signs are substantially out of compliance.
Dube and his fellow activists created a measuring tool set to the maximum allowable height and distance specifications. They found one of the top ticket-producing speed camera locations, the intersection of Grant Avenue and Wilton Street, has the photo radar unit placed just beyond a single sign announcing a reduction in the maximum legal speed from 60 km/h (37 MPH) to 50 km/h (31 MPH). This sign is placed at least two feet above the maximum permissible height, which the group pointed out significantly reduces visibility at night because it is above the reach of most headlights.
For comparison, the group examined roads maintained by the Province of Manitoba and found provincial authorities strictly adhered to MUTCD requirements in all respects.
“City signage does not meet MUTCD standards by design as a means of entrapping motorists who are unaware of the reduced limit,” WiseUpWinnipeg’s Larry Stefanuik said in a statement. “The Grant at Wilton scenario is a clear example of the predatory intent behind the program.”
Stefanuik and Dube are calling on Winnipeg to refund tickets issued at the intersection because the city itself failed to comply with the law.
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Maybe I can understand some people not seeing the sign, but it would probably stand out more to me because of the weird and unusual height. I would notice a speed limit sign more if it was 3 feet off the ground not because of it being in my line of vision, but just because it looks weird And I don't know if the argument about being too high for headlights is really valid because all modern signs light up like a lightbulb when there is minimal light reflecting off of them. Mind you, they could have moved the No Parking sign down a few feet to make room for the speed limit sign, but then people with parking tickets would start bellyaching over the parking signs at the wrong height.
Not in any way to argue against the point of the article but I must say that I think the signage in general in North America is extremely poor compared to what I was used to in Britain before coming here 20 years ago. In cities in particular traffic signs are often hidden among a blizzard of distractions like trees, business signage, billboards, lesser signs such as parking rules, etc etc. I know part of it is simply familiarity, or lack thereof, and I'm sure people born and raised here are so used to everything that the signage seems fine but warning signs and speed signs in particular in UK are always extremely visible and made of highly reflective material so they really jump out in low light conditions. Just as an aside, I've never understood why "cats eyes", which are one of the most brilliant road safety device ever designed, are not more common over here. Driving unlit highways at night with faded-out paint lines as the only reference is infinitely less safe and more tiring than when seeing a brilliant line of reflective "eyes" showing the way.