Running Red Lights

I’m not one to advocate for excessive government intervention in most things, but when society shows a lack of will to control certain behaviours, I’m all in. Speeding and the running of red lights is one such area. I’ll apologize in advance for the rant, like “sorry-not-sorry.”

In some cases, government regulation is essential, by imposing restrictions to protect public health and safety, like physical distancing protocols in the coronavirus pandemic, and speed limits for driving.

Ever since the city of Winnipeg, Canada brought in photo enforcement in the early 2000s, there has been a small but vocal chorus of detractors that irks me to no end, calling for such things as longer amber lights and more signage to control traffic safety. No. It’s driver behaviour. That’s all. 

Anytime you’re driving in the city, the speed limit is 50 kph unless otherwise posted. There are signs to inform you as you drive into the city, in case you didn’t study for and obtain your driver certification here. Pretty simple. And, word on the street was, years ago, that the threshold for a photo enforcement ticket to be issued was 12 kph over the limit. (I have no idea if that is correct, by the way… so don’t try it on my account…) But if that were correct, in a 50 kph zone, you could travel at, say, 60 kph, without fear of a ticket. That’s plenty fast enough when it’s been stated that the chances for pedestrian survival when struck by a vehicle decline dramatically at speeds higher than 30 kph. (I’ll add here that I’m in favour of 30 kph zones in all residential areas, by the way. People blast down our street all the time, using it as a cut-through between regional routes, traffic-calming-be-damned.)

And as far as red lights, it’s widely known that the timing of an amber light in Winnipeg is four seconds. Apparently, some jurisdictions have them for five seconds. Okay; so in our city, I’d wager money that a longer amber light would mean a few more vehicles whipping through to beat the red light. And, people would still be racing through intersections as the light changed to red, possibly setting up a dangerous situation if a driver blasted off on a green light without checking to see the intersection was clear.

Photo enforcement tickets for speeding and red-light running are a completely voluntary tax. All you need to avoid a ticket is to “Just Slow Down,” as the brilliant Winnipeg ad campaign states. (Full disclosure: as a public servant, I worked alongside the agency that created that campaign many years ago, but take no credit for the movement they worked passionately to create.)

And, sorry, I don’t know anything about the band as I only discovered their song “Running Red Lights” when it played this morning on KEXP Seattle’s The Morning Show with John Richards. As you may have gathered, it reminded me that, to this day, the last thing to enter the photo enforcement debate seems to be common sense, reason, and personal responsibility. Don’t want a ticket? Don’t speed. Don’t run red lights. It can’t be any more simple.

Anyway, I warned you of a rant… now it’s my turn to sit back, and if you have thoughts, I’m happy to read them. 

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy. Safely.

Here’s the video for the song from The Avalanches’ official YouTube channel:  

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