Friday, September 3, 2010

Speed Trap Capital of the World

Wow, what an amazing amount of attention Toronto got this week after it was revealed on a website that we are the Speed Trap Capital of the World!!

It was a very busy 24 hours after that news broke, but what exactly does it mean? 250 locations (give or take) on the list, crowd sourced information, not really verified and what do they class as a speed trap?

Lets kick this off by talking about traps:

a device in which something (usually an animal) can be caught and penned

drain consisting of a U-shaped section of drainpipe that holds liquid and so prevents a return flow of sewer gas

something (often something deceptively attractive) that catches you unaware; "the exam was full of trap questions"; "it was all a snare and delusion"

a device to hurl clay pigeons into the air for trapshooters

place in a confining or embarrassing position; "He was trapped in a difficult situation"

ambush: the act of concealing yourself and lying in wait to attack by surprise

catch in or as if in a trap; "The men trap foxes"

informal terms for the mouth

a light two-wheeled carriage

So I guess we can agree that there is no way what we are doing can be considered traps.

Posted speed limits, uniforms, equipment, cars, motorcycles...any decent driver that is

observant and scanning their route of travel surely has to see the police enforcement. Often times, other stopped cars can even be a clue. One prominent driving advocate even stated he has seen as many as eight officers at a location…not much of a ‘trap’.

Who is in control of the speed of a vehicle? The passenger? The other cars? The pedestrians? Nope…it’s the driver. Gas pedal for faster, brake pedal for slower. What is the incentive for the drivers to speed? Tickets, possible insurance rate hikes, demerit points, loss of license, etc. Or is the incentive to avoid tickets? By doing something crazy like, I don’t know…travelling the speed limit.

Road safety is based on three simple tenants.

  • Education
  • Awareness
  • Enforcement

(You can add in engineering but that’s not in law enforcements hands).

Folks, we do enforcement based in one simple principal…safety. We educate and raise awareness so that we can avoid the enforcement. But, there will always be some people who choose to risk all our safety in one manner or another. We will always be there to address them appropriately.

If you combine all other crimes committed you would not come close to devastation and societal impacts that traffic related incidents have on us. You are far more likely to be in a collision than you are to be the victim of violence. Go to any community meeting, town hall meeting and you are sure to find that traffic related matters (speeding and parking in particular) top the list of concerns of the community.

Two of the main ways we determine locations are:

  • Community generated concerns reported to us asking for our help making their neighbourhoods safer
  • Crash analysis that has indicated a need for enforcement/education/awareness

One of the things this list indicates to me is how plugged in and tech savvy Toronto is. You have given that site more locations that New York, LA and Montreal residents combined. Way to go.

I can’t believe how many of those locations I’ve actually stood in ‘beaming’ the traffic. Some of them though…don’t think they were actually speed enforcement locations, bit more likely officers sitting at the side of the road doing reports and passerby’s have fed the locations as a radar spot.

So, thank you Toronto for helping us spread the word and show the world how committed the Toronto Police Service is to road safety. We have made it a priority <-(PDF) for several years now in an effort to reduce collisions, injuries and death in Toronto.

Interesting fact…Los Angeles is about 2X the size (population) of Toronto and has about 2X more sworn officers. According the Speed Trap Site, we have about 2X more locations than them.

In 2008 (last published numbers for LA) they had 234 fatalities…Toronto had 54.

So let me know are there any areas that you particularly like? Any locations you would like to add to the list? Let me know. Love to hear from you.