Waterloo looking to install traffic cameras - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo looking to install traffic cameras

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Drivers in the city of Waterloo could soon be seeing automated traffic enforcement cameras. The cameras, similar to the ones in Cedar Rapids, would catch drivers speeding or running red lights.

Waterloo Police Chief Dan Trelka, who's proposing to install the cameras, says it's a safety issue.

"We've been successful in driving our crash rate down the past several years, but we've seen an uptick over the past years," said Chief Trelka. "Across the country, we're seeing people driving too aggressively or their distracted and it's been shown in many communities that utilize this tool-that they have an impact on safety in the entire community." 

Chief Trelka said he was skeptical at the effectiveness of the cameras, until he saw the data from the Cedar Rapids Police Chief, which showed a drop in the number of crashes. 

"We want to put some stationary units at some of our intersections where we have traffic signals, where we have a high crash rate, fatalities, and serious injuries," said Chief Trelka. "But we also want to acquire some hand-held units that the officers will be able to utilize, as well as a trailer that we can use in school zones and neighborhoods where we get a lot of complaints."

The city has done their homework, looking to install these traffic cameras at six high crash intersections. 

"Ansborugh and University is a perfect example," said Chief Trelka. "Our traffic department actually has a formula they use on the number of crashes, the severity of the crash, how many people were injured, whether there were any fatals, and they give a point value to our worst intersections, and Ansborough and University tends to be one of our worst intersections for the number of crashes, the severity of injuries, the severity of the property damages-so that's a good example of where we'd like to put one."

The city would be contracting with Gatso USA, the same company Cedar Rapids uses, to install and operate their traffic cameras. The company would be issuing out the tickets and dealing with the billing, but the city would be setting fines.

Chief Trelka says he's looking at a potential fee structure:

  • $75- for an initial violation of blowing a red light
  • $50- for speeding 6-10 over
  • $75-for speeding 11-15 over 

With each red light violation, Chief Trelka says drivers could see that fee increase. 

"People have said well what if we don't pay?" said Chief Trelka. "Well if you don't pay we're going to maintain a database of that and if an officer then stops you, for any other traffic violation-that will have an impact on their discretion as to whether or not they're going to issue you a regular ticket."

The tickets would not be going against driving records, but the idea is a push to get people to slow down and pay attention. 

"The general feedback that I've been getting from the community, is that we're acceptive of this, but we're going to watch how this all plays out," said Chief Trelka. 

Chief Trelka has been trying to create dialogue with the community-asking them for their input-looking to see where drivers themselves are seeing the most red light violations. 

"We've got some challenges on Highway 218, but I don't want to have a camera at every single traffic intersection on Highway 218, so out of the three or four that are out there we expect we'll put up two."

The idea is being met with mixed reviews, while some favor in support, other are questioning the motive behind the cameras.

"I think it's a good idea, and people need to slow down a little bit, especially in pedestrian areas," said Roberta Craven.

"I think they suck," said Stanley Shaw. "They don't really stop people from speeding and they don't really work for safety as far as I can see," said Shaw.

Other, who've ran into citations from traffic cameras in Cedar Rapids, say they'll just learn to be more careful. 

Currently, in Iowa, traffic enforcement cameras are legal. The city of Cedar Rapids recently crossed into a legal gray area with the cameras. Chief Trelka says the company is addressing any issues that arise in the state. 

Chief Trelka says he'd like to see the money from the citations go towards lower property taxes or hiring three more police officers for the department. 

The ordinance will have it's third and final reading during the City Council meeting on August 7th, 2017. If city council votes in favor, Waterloo would be the first city in Black Hawk County to have traffic cameras. 

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