I-PIRG spokesperson, Sonia Ashe, says a couple of Iowa companies have contracts that could be a problem.
She says Des Moines and Cedar Rapids link the number of citations to the amount that’s paid to the company that sets up and operates the cameras. Ashe says the city of Clive also has a contract that pays the company based on the number of citations.
Des Moines pays Gatso $27 out of the $65 for each red light ticket. Cedar Rapids gets $30 of each $100 charged for a ticket. She says Clive has not released the information on its payment.
Ashe says the contracts should not be based on the number of violations. Ashe says a better option is a fee-for-service that pays the company a flat fee for running the cameras. She says that can give cities a better idea of how much the programs cost and can eliminate the lack of public trust. Ashe says mistrust in the process can be driven more by perception than reality when it comes to the contracts.
City officials in all three say the cameras were installed as a safety measure to prevent accidents. Ashe says there are a lot of other things that can be done before turning on the cameras. Ashe says you can lengthen yellow lights, install larger newer signals that are easier to see or lights that display red all the way around before changing. She says these things could be done to improve safety without focusing on ticketing motorists.
Ashe says the city governments should also be sure they can get out of the contracts if they want to, as that has been a problem in other parts of the country. The report is called “Caution: Red Light Cameras Ahead; The Risks of Privatizing Traffic Law Enforcement and How to Protect the Public” can be found on the I-PIRG websites at: www.iowapirg.org.