POLITICS

Saskatchewan speeders in highway construction zones will be caught on camera

07/15/2013 02:41 EDT | Updated 09/14/2013 05:12 EDT
REGINA - In 30 years of highway work, Bruce Botkin has seen cars drive through barricades, hit construction equipment and strike workers.

Botkin says reasons for that include lack of driver attention and impatience.

"If you're working on the highways, there's going to be delays, and we see a lot of rage when they have to wait for 10 or 15 minutes to get through the zone," Botkin said Monday as he stood next to a work area just west of Regina.

The level of danger for highway workers is huge, he said.

"You're like a sitting duck when you're working on the highway, at the mercy of the travelling public."

Drivers in Saskatchewan could now find themselves on camera. Saskatchewan has started using photo radar to catch speeders in highway construction zones.

MLA Darryl Hickie, who is heading up a traffic safety committee, said three of the mobile radar devices are being deployed across Saskatchewan.

"I want to clearly state to the drivers in this province, this could be in any work zone, anywhere in the province, any time throughout the rest of the summer," he said.

"All you have to do is obey the posted speed limit and you will not get a ticket."

The province is paying ACS Public Sector Solutions Inc. $1.6 million to operate the photo radar until June 2018.

Pictures will be taken of vehicles going faster than 60 km/h and then sent to the RCMP, who can issue tickets. The laser-based unit, which is also used in Alberta and Manitoba, can take clear images of vehicles up to 150 metres away.

Tickets will be mailed to a vehicle's registered owner. Any fine money collected is to go to the province's general revenue fund, although Hickie insists it's not a cash grab.

"It really isn't about the idea of politics. It's about putting these up in random work zones where we see the possibility of speeding."

The move to improve safety comes after a flag person was struck and killed last August. Ashley Richards was hit by an SUV near Midale on her first day on the job. The 18-year-old woman was originally from Lakeside, N.B.

The government has already announced more signs in work zones, so drivers know when they have to slow down, and raised fines for people caught speeding in construction zones. The minimum fine is now $210, up from $140. The fines go up for each kilometre over the limit a driver is speeding.

Botkin said he believes photo radar "definitely will make a difference" when it comes to improving safety.

"The only way to show you mean business is hit the pocketbook and I guess that's the way to do it."