Traffic cameras were installed around Cedar Rapids nearly seven months ago. Since then, more than 41,000 motorists have been sent citations in the mail for running red lights or breaking the speed limit. Although they were initially billed as “red light cameras,” Cedar Rapids Police Chief Greg Graham says 93% of the tickets issued are for speeding.
“The majority of the people are driving the speed limit, which is all we want people to do,” Graham said. Cameras on Interstate 380 now account for most of the tickets. In September, just over 10,500 tickets were issued between two cameras monitoring the northbound lanes of I-380. The police department sets the “tolerance” level on the speed cameras, but they will not say how far above the speed limit a car must be going before a ticket is issued.
KCRG-TV reviewed the data and found no citations were issued for violations of less than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. “If I wanted these things to make more money, we would set the tolerance low but that is not the purpose,” Graham said. “The purpose is to change driver behavior.”
The revenue from the cameras is significant. On October 16, for example, 614 citations were issued just on Interstate 380. The total amount billed for that day alone was $45,150. The company that supplies the cameras receives $30 for each ticket issued. A tenth and final camera in Cedar Rapids will go “live” soon. Graham says there are no plans to add more cameras.
“It’s safer to drive in Cedar Rapids now,” Graham said. He says the cameras have led to a reduction in crashes and more motorists driving the speed limit and paying closer attention to traffic signals.
By Chris Earl, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids