Iowa DOT forces city leaders to justify red light cameras

As of Wednesday, April 30 new legislation from the Iowa Department of Transportation will make city leaders prove their red light cameras are actually making a difference.

I-DOT said its goal is to hold cities and counties accountable by showing that red light and speed cameras are helping improve safety and not just generating revenue.

“It’s something that we just think is a really good thing for Iowans that we’re making sure that these systems are about safety and if there’s anything else we should be doing, we’re going to look at it together,” said Steve Gent, Director of the I-DOT Office of Traffic & Safety. “It’s really a system where we want to work with the cities and come up with good solutions.”

However police feel that the new legislation threatens a tool they say makes their cities safer.

Muscatine’s Assistant Chief of Police, Phillip Sargent, said that while the cameras do generate revenue, they also make the city safer.

“We have been able to reduce the amount of red light running, and the amount of speeding,” Sargent said. “From 2011 to 2013 there’s been a 33 percent decline in crashes.”

City officials have until May 1 to present their statistics on the cameras to I-DOT.

6 comments

  • ararielfett

    This is completely stupid. Red light cameras may or may not hinder people from going through them, but after the camera catches them and they get ticketed, THAT could be the hindrance. On top of that, red light cameras help show who exactly is at fault when someone goes through a red light and causes an accident. Without video evidence, it’s he-said she-said..

  • jim

    Speed cameras is a money maker for city’s because most of them are put at spots for money not safety just for speeders

  • Elliott Whitlow

    I see no issue with putting the cities on the hook to justify continued use of the cameras. They generate revenue and for MANY people this reason alone is why they believe many cities previously would NEVER consider taking them down even if they had virtually no effect or even a demonstrated negative effect.

    IF they are truly making a difference it should be no trouble to quantify and submit the required paperwork. IF they are having trouble quantifying it then I think it stands to reason that perhaps their reasons ARE revenue and not public safety..

  • TIM

    What a joke.. You can get statistics to prove anything. 85% of people know that. I wish the state would just abolish them. I gurantee the state will not deny one camera request.

  • James C. Walker

    Part of the rules say cities must also make all the relevant engineering changes that make roads and lights safer. If all the speed limits were set for maximum safety, there would be no speed cameras because they would lose too much money with too few tickets. If all the yellow intervals on lights were set for safety by being long enough for the actual approach speeds, there would be no red light cameras because they would lose too much money with too few tickets.

    If IDOT strictly enforces the rules as written, all the camera will come down.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

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