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Curious about where Calgary drivers are breaking the rules? New police data reveals hot spots

Calgary has 52 locations capable of speed-on-green enforcement, and a total of 54 intersection safety camera locations, including this intersection at Memorial Drive and Fourth Street N.E. (Ose Irete/CBC - image credit)
Calgary has 52 locations capable of speed-on-green enforcement, and a total of 54 intersection safety camera locations, including this intersection at Memorial Drive and Fourth Street N.E. (Ose Irete/CBC - image credit)

Calgary police issued 234,841 photo radar, speed-on-green and red-light camera tickets last year.

That's an average of 643 tickets every day from automated enforcement alone.

But have you ever wondered where the most traffic violations occur in the city?

CBC News requested data from the Calgary Police Service to find out what locations recorded the most automated enforcement traffic fines in 2023.

When it comes to intersection safety and automated enforcement, here's what Calgary police told us.

Running red lights, Top 3 locations:

  • Macleod Trail and 7th Avenue S.E. — 2,970 tickets issued.

  • Bow Trail and 33rd Street S.W. — 2,302 tickets issued.

  • 6th Avenue and 4th Street S.W. — 2,296 tickets issued.

Speeding through green lights, Top 3 locations:

  • Beddington Trail and Country Hills Boulevard N.W. — 19,175 tickets issued.

  • 16th Avenue and 68th Street N.E. (eastbound) — 16,814 tickets issued.

  • 9th Avenue and 11th Street S.W. — 15,082 tickets issued.

The city introduced speed-on-green cameras in 2009, and red light cameras have been around for more than two decades.

Now, Calgary has 52 locations capable of speed-on-green enforcement, and 54 intersection safety camera locations.

But don't forget about photo radar.

In recent years, it's been the most heavily debated of all three automated enforcement methods, with 2022 bringing new provincial government regulations around where these can be deployed and how visible they must be.

Here are the spots where Calgary police saw the most photo radar-issued summonses for speeding.

Photo radar, Top 3 locations:

  • 1300 Airport Trail N.E. — 22,311 tickets issued.

  • 1100 12th Avenue S.W. — 4,824 tickets issued.

  • 900 Crowchild Trail S.W. — 3,889 tickets issued.

For any speeding violation, from one kilometre to 50 kilometres over the limit, standard Alberta fines range from $81 to $495.

An even bigger no-no is speeding past road construction workers or emergency responders, which could land you an automatically doubled fine.

And a red light violation in Calgary is an automatic $405 fine.

None of these police-supplied statistics included fine revenue totals. CPS said that information comes from the provincial government.

Some may wonder how police decide which locations should have automated enforcement.

Colin Foster, acting staff sergeant for CPS's traffic section, says it's centred around collision data.

"If there's been a fatality at that scene, or serious injury collision at that scene or that particular location, then that highlights that spot," he told CBC News in an interview.

CPS provided data for last year, when there were 41,407 collisions. This number includes vehicle-on-vehicle collisions, collisions with pedestrians, fatal collisions and hit and runs.

Foster's main role is investigating collisions that result in fatalities. As a police officer, he believes photo radar and intersection cameras are an important part of keeping the city's roads safe.

"This is my own position, as opposed to anybody else's. I'm not speaking on behalf of CPS on this. But anything that slows somebody down from speeding is a good thing. At the end of the day, if people keep within the speed limit, then the severity of collisions, should they occur, is reduced," said Foster.

"Anything that prevents me from having to go and speak to a family because someone was speeding and ended up having a collision is always going to be a good thing."

'Just pay attention'

The police officer also believes that Calgary's roads are unique and that motorists need to pay even closer attention to the road conditions.

"The driving surface you're on can change so much so quickly. You can go from dry pavement, to packed snow, to ice in a very short period of distance," he said.

But Gere Woldu, the supervisor for novice driving instructors with the Alberta Motor Association, says there's nothing inherently special — or inherently bad — about Calgary's roads.

"Driving in Calgary is just like any other city. It's always busy, right?"

Gere Woldu is AMA's supervisor for novice driving instructors in southern Alberta. He says drivers "just need to be nice to each other" on the road. He recommends practicing patience and kindness with others, even when they make mistakes.
Gere Woldu is AMA's supervisor for novice driving instructors in southern Alberta. He says drivers "just need to be nice to each other" on the road. He recommends practicing patience and kindness with others, even when they make mistakes.

Gere Woldu is AMA's supervisor for novice driving instructors in southern Alberta. He says drivers 'just need to be nice to each other' on the road. He recommends practicing patience, even when other motorists make mistakes. (Submitted by Alberta Motor Association)

"Our city's growing, it's changed in the last 20 years that I've been here. It's getting busier. A lot of people are moving into Calgary.… So there's more people on the road."

He's been with AMA since 2006. As a career-long driving instructor, Woldu says he's always noticing other motorists' behaviours.

One of Calgary's intersection safety cameras at 9th Avenue and 11th Street S.W., where over 15,000 speed-on-green tickets were issued in 2023.
One of Calgary's intersection safety cameras at 9th Avenue and 11th Street S.W., where over 15,000 speed-on-green tickets were issued in 2023.

One of Calgary's intersection safety cameras at Ninth Avenue and 11th Street S.W., where over 15,000 speed-on-green tickets were issued last year. (Natalie Valleau/CBC)

The biggest problem he sees on Calgary roads is a lack of patience, and it sometimes leads to motorists making bad — or even dangerous — decisions.

While Calgary police say traffic tickets are a vital aspect of ensuring safety on our roads, critics of camera-related fines have called them cash cows.

At the third most ticketed speed-on-green location, CBC News chatted with Amol Gadekar, who says he's received two speeding tickets in the mail so far.

"It's pathetic, like I was just [going] three or four kilometres extra than the speed," said Gadekar.

"It is what it is, right?"

He says you never know where you'll get caught for speeding, so the only thing drivers can do is follow the rules.

But while he may not love the fines, Chris Loder, a Calgarian who lives downtown, feels there are benefits.

At the second most ticketed photo radar location — a school zone on 12th Avenue S.W. — Loder told CBC News that speeding is a problem there.

"In this case, it's kind of appropriate," he said, gesturing toward the school. "It can be overdone, certainly, like on Stoney Trail."

He walks his dog on that block daily, and he says he notices speeders all the time.

A photo radar vehicle on 8 Avenue NE.
A photo radar vehicle on 8 Avenue NE.

Near the end of 2022, photo radar vehicles started being covered in fluorescent yellow vinyl wraps after new mandates from the provincial government. (Tony Seskus/CBC)

So when you make a bad decision while driving, there are usually consequences, says driving instructor Woldu. A ticket is likely the least severe of potential bad outcomes.

"The purpose of the ticket is that this mistake has happened and we just want you to be aware of it," he said.

At the end of the day, Woldu says you're fully allowed to disagree and try to fight a ticket in court — but perhaps it shouldn't keep drivers from learning a lesson about their habits.

"It's that person's responsibility to make sure that it doesn't happen again … just pay attention and just stay safe."