Poor replacement batteries are being blamed for a sharp reduction in violations captured by photo speed enforcement cameras in and around Moose Jaw earlier this year.

The cameras are installed at Pallister Heights School on Grace St. and William Grayson School on Caribou St. West and at the intersection of Highway 1 and 9th Ave. NW.

SGI spokesperson Tyler McMurchy says the vendor that runs the photo speed enforcement program needed to change the type of batteries used in the cameras to comply with federal regulations. The replacement batteries were installed in mid-2022. Due to supply chain issues, the vendor wasn't able to install better long-term batteries until May of 2023.

"These alternative batteries had pretty significant performance issues in cold weather," explained McMurchy. "That resulted in fewer violations being detected and therefore tickets issued between the fall of 2022 and the spring of 2023."

He notes violations in Moose Jaw dropped most noticeably in January and February of 2023.

There were 357 violations captured by the highway camera in January of 2023 compared to 1,513 in January of 2022. In February of 2023, the highway camera captured 716 violations compared to 1,643 in February of 2022.

The school zone cameras recorded just 18 violations in January of 2023 compared to 58 in January of 2022. February numbers were more on par, with 44 infractions captured in 2023 compared to 57 in 2022.

McMurchy notes that every violation captured by photo speed enforcement cameras does not necessarily end up as a ticket issued by police for a number of reasons.

He adds damage to the camera lens may have also contributed to the reduction in violations, however, the battery issue was the main culprit.

SGI says the goal of the photo speed enforcement program is to improve safety and not to generate revenue.

"The evaluations that we've done have shown that it has had a positive impact on both the frequency and the severity of collisions, particularly speed-related collisions where photo speed enforcement takes place," continued McMurchy. "It reduces collisions and reduces injuries that result from those collisions as well. It has had a positive impact on safety."

He adds the cameras are highly visible and there is no attempt to fool anybody on their whereabouts.

Photo speed enforcement was implemented in Saskatchewan in 2014. Cameras are installed in Moose Jaw, Regina, Saskatoon, and Wakaw and in various construction zones around the province.

SGI’s school zone penalties start with a baseline of $170. That increases by $4 per kilometre per hour up to 30 km/h over the posted speed limit and $8 if drivers are more than 30 km/h over the posted speed limit.

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