In Iowa, there's a new law in the works about automated traffic enforcement cameras. Instead of banning them completely, the law will put rules in place to control how they're used.

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Cameras Are NOT Being Banned, Just Regulated

Local authorities will need permission from the state to put up these cameras, and they'll have to follow certain rules about where the money from the tickets go. The governor just needs to sign off on this law for it to become official.

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This is a big deal because in the past, attempts to either get rid of these cameras or keep them have failed. But now, there's more support to do something about them, especially since more of these cameras are being set up in Iowa. Some lawmakers think it's been a long time coming and that there's a need for these cameras, especially in busy city areas.

Statement From Tony Bisignano

“This has been a long time coming. I think five or six years we’ve debated this,” Sen. Tony Bisignano, a Democrat from Des Moines, said Monday during debate in the Senate. “We were in such a tie down of ban or no ban that this came to make sense. There is a need for automated traffic cameras, especially in the urban areas.”

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Data From Cedar Rapids

As of January, a group called the Legislative Services Agency in Iowa, which helps the government understand data, found that 25 cities in Iowa had cameras that catch people breaking traffic rules in the year 2023. They looked at information about these cameras in 10 of those cities, including Cedar Rapids.

In Cedar Rapids, there were 19 of these traffic cameras in the year 2023. Some of them were placed around a part of the highway called the S-curve on Interstate 380. During that year, the city gave out almost 170,000 tickets for breaking traffic rules, and they collected fines for 55% of those tickets. This brought in about $7.2 million in money for the city, which was more than other cities like Des Moines made from their cameras.

According to data from Cedar Rapids, the number of car accidents and accidents where someone got hurt each month has gone down since they started using these cameras back in 2010.

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In 2023, Marion started using these cameras at two places, and University Heights said they were putting them in at two spots this year.

Iowa’s 377 traffic deaths in 2023 were the state’s most since 2016, and the state’s 11.2% increase in vehicle-related deaths from 2022 to 2023 was the nation’s fourth-highest, according to a recent federal report.

Edited Getty/Canva Images
Edited Getty/Canva Images

Here's How The New Law Would Work:

  • Cities would need permission from the Iowa Department of Transportation to put up any new traffic cameras on roads in Iowa. Cameras that are already up can keep working until October 1st, but after that, cities need the state's permission to keep them going.
  • When asking for permission, cities have to show data like how much traffic there is and how many accidents happen in that area to prove why they need a camera there.
  • These cameras can only give tickets to drivers who don't follow the rules at traffic lights, stop signs, or railroad crossings, or who drive more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. Before a ticket is given, a person from the city has to check the camera footage to make sure it's accurate. Cedar Rapids and some other cities already meet these rules.
  • Small cities with fewer than 20,000 people can't give out fines from cameras in cars or trailers parked on the side of the road. They can only give warnings for those.
  • Money from tickets has to be spent on fixing roads or helping the police or fire department.
  • Out of the 10 cities that had data about their traffic cameras, six, including Cedar Rapids, use the money they get from tickets for general city expenses. Cedar Rapids spends its money on public safety, like paying for police officers and buying equipment for them, such as body cameras. Waterloo uses its money for police equipment, Buffalo for public safety, Muscatine for police workers, and Des Moines for communication systems for emergencies.
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