Red light cameras may help with winter driving - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Red light cameras may help with winter driving

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- Drivers in Cedar Rapids are trained to slow down when they cruise through a red light camera enforced intersection to avoid the possibility of a ticket.

While research shows that following the speed limit results in fewer accidents, these cameras have the potential to give street crews and law enforcement more information during the dangerous winter driving season. 

A Winter Storm Watch goes into effect Tuesday afternoon and will continue into Wednesday for up to 8" of snow in portions of southeast and east central Iowa. Combined with that, the winds will pick up to 20-30 mph with higher gusts. That will create blowing and drifting snow with severely reduced visibilities, especially from Dubuque through Des Moines.

The Iowa D.O.T uses cameras over some of the state's busiest roads.  In Cedar Rapids, ten traffic cameras are meant to get people to obey the law.  The red light cameras could potentially double as surveillance of intersections when the snow and ice cover the roads, but the police department just doesn't have the resources to monitor the footage.  Sgt. Joe Clark says, at least for this season, they'll stick to traditional methods for monitoring the weather.

"The cameras only detect motion, to signal the lights. And so unless we had someone monitoring them at all times-- we feel we'd serve the community better by having more squad cars on the street."

Hanson says even if the city eventually staffed enough police officers to monitor the traffic cameras, the information would often be too late for road crews.

"It's too late.  We need to know the  conditions before an accident happens to we can prevent it and treat the roads in an appropriate manner."

Public safety officials always remind drivers to plan ahead for the winter weather and to watch your speed.  That is especially true where the red light cameras are present.  Those ten traffic cameras lead to more than 350 tickets a day at $75.00 a piece.

Online reporter:  Molly Nichols

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