VICTORIA — Proponents of the theory that increased law enforcement leads to better behaviour from motorists have a new study in B.C. to help support their claims.
According to the new report, a dedicated, integrated road safety unit in the Fraser Valley has not only helped reduce the number of crashes and fatalities, but also issued four times as many violation tickets compared to the previous overtime-based road safety model, for an increase of $2.7 million in traffic fine revenue.
The Fraser Valley Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) – made up of 19 full-time dedicated traffic officers from the RCMP and the Delta and Abbotsford police departments – hit the region’s roads and highways in October 2005.
In 2009, the ministry conducted an evaluation, which examined the effectiveness of the unit in terms of enforcement levels (violations issued) and impact on traffic collisions and fatalities.
Here’s what they uncovered:
– There were 518 fewer crashes resulting in injuries – from the 2002-03 average of 4,496, to 3,978 in 2007-08, for a total reduction of 12 percent.
– Crashes resulting in fatalities decreased from 98 victims on average in 2002-03, to 84 in 2007-08, resulting in 14 lives saved and a 14 percent decrease.
– In 2008, the unit issued 31,331 violation tickets, compared with 7,377 in 2003.
– These violation tickets resulted in $3.3 million in traffic fine revenue compared to $600,000 in 2003, for a difference of $2.7 million.
All ticket fine revenue is returned to B.C. municipalities to spend on public safety initiatives.
The review also found that some improvements are needed operationally. The unit’s primary priority should be to target high-crash locations, police assigned to the unit should have an experienced background in traffic enforcement, and ministry staff should meet with the unit quarterly to review its effectiveness.
The officers aren’t alone when it comes to improving traffic safety. According to the report, the intersection safety camera program, integrated municipal provincial auto crime team (IMPACT) and automated licence plate recognition technology also contribute to the province’s enhanced road safety program.