The City's traffic plan for 2024 through 2026 was accepted by City Council on Monday.
"Of note, is that Airdrie’s population is now 80,649 residents, an increase of 9 per cent from the previous Traffic Safety Plan. This increase in population has resulted in more traffic present on city roads; however, the number of reportable collisions within the city went down from 1,297 in 2019 to 1223 in 2022," City documents stated. "Although this decrease in accidents cannot fully be attributed to the City’s traffic safety enforcement strategy, there is an anecdotal indication that this strategy is having the desired effect in reducing overall accidents."
Six key strategic initiatives were enumerated within the plan including identifying high collision intersections, targeting speeding, distracted and aggressive driving, continued visibility and presence around school zones, identifying and removing impaired drivers from city roadways, as well as providing education to motorists and working on noise and vehicular modifications.
Identifying high-collision intersections will mean there will be continued signage at high-collision intersections, but also targeted enforcement activities at identified high-collision intersections. The City is also planning to continue to monitor the Province’s position on Automatic Traffic Enforcement.
"In late 2019, the Alberta government announced that any new automated traffic programs would not be permitted until a thorough review of existing programs was completed. This review was estimated to be finalized within two years. The freeze has been extended until December 1, 2023," City documents stated.
Due to this freeze, red light cameras can't be factored into the traffic plan. However, documents noted that if the freeze were to be lifted, Airdrie could look into the use of red light cameras.
"It is recognized that driver education and awareness are important components of traffic safety enforcement. The City’s active cooperation with local media is paramount to the success of traffic initiatives such as school zone patrols, distracted driving awareness and seat belt violations."
Councillor Petrow noted that the education component though vital, should be a tool used for both motorists as well as pedestrians.
"Are we also taking the opportunity to educate pedestrians - like going to our schools to educate youth, so, they don't run across the road when they can't run across the road?"
Brian Rayner, Team leader for the City's Municipal Enforcement, said that Pedestrian Safety Month, which October is dedicated to, did just that.
"We are in all the elementary schools, teaching about safe crossing, and it is one of our priorities through our Traffic Safety Officer, primarily to make sure that intersection safety is a priority," he said. "October has the highest rate for pedestrian accidents [in the province."
Rayner added that while Municipal Enforcement deals with both elementary and middle schools, the local RCMP present to high school-aged students.
When it comes to identifying and removing impaired drivers from city roadways, Municipal Enforcement noted that this falls to the RCMP.
"This is a function of the RCMP under the Criminal Code of Canada and not part of Municipal Enforcement’s mandate. Check stops take place regularly throughout the year."
Councillor Petrow also inquired about whether e-scooters were taken into the traffic safety plan's consideration, to which Rayner said that The City's Municipal Enforcement does enforce the bylaw.
And although Airdrie's population has exponentially grown, Municipal Enforcement noted that the City has not seen a significant increase in, 'dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and flight from a Peace Officer.'
"Dangerous driving charges increased from 22 to 23 per year from 2019 to 2022. Given that the population has increased by 9 per cent over this time, this is not a significant increase."
While the traffic plan was accepted by both the Service Advisory Board and Municipal Police Advisory Board, it was noted that the newly opened 40th Interchange did not figure into the plan as it had not been opened before the plan came to fruition. However, Rayner, assured council that this aspect would be discussed during an upcoming Traffic Advisory Board Committee meeting on Wednesday.
"I will bring that there [to the Traffic Advisory Board Committee] and see if we can get roads to even put up a temporary sign. I do know it is a priority right now for municipal officers to be doing enforcement on that road."
Airdrie's previous traffic safety plan was for 2021 through 2023.
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