Written by Michael Crowe, Multimedia Journalist - email
ANKENY (KWWL) -
A meeting was held in Ankeny Wednesday afternoon to discuss the future of automatic traffic cameras in Iowa.
Currently, cameras are operated and monitored independently by the cities that install them.
Now, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) wants cities to prove that the cameras are actually necessary, making the cameras more of a last resort, and standardizing their use.
At the meeting, police said the cameras save lives, and that the proposed regulations are so strict that they essentially ban the cameras.
But some think the cameras are just a way for the city to make money.
"Quite frankly, I don't know what the scheme is, but I know it's not about public safety," said David Beer, an rental car company operator in Cedar Rapids.
"I totally disagree," said Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman. "It's not about the money, it's about changing driver behavior, and again, the data supports that."
Chief Jerman said that since the cameras have been installed on Interstate 380 in Cedar Rapids, no one has died on that stretch of road.
The new DOT rules would push cities to try other options before using cameras, and place guidelines on where they can be installed.
"The big thing from our perspective is that safety is a comprehensive issue," said Iowa DOT Director Paul Trombino. "It's not just the element of enforcement and rarely is it achieved without dealing with a whole series of safety countermeasures to address this."
But the proposed guidelines could outlaw many current cameras, and there's a lot on the line. Regardless of safety, the traffic cameras are a major source of revenue for the city of Cedar Rapids. The Associated Press projects the city will make over $4 million from the cameras this year.
No decisions were made at the meeting in Ankeny, and public is allowed to comment on the proceedings until 4 p.m. Thursday by emailing Tracy.George@dot.iowa.gov.
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