September 1, 2014

Another bid to ban traffic enforcement cameras in Iowa

A state senator who has crusaded against traffic cameras is trying again in 2013.

Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, says the “ultimate goal” is a statewide ban on traffic enforcement cameras that issue citations for speeding and running red lights. But Zaun says past failures to get that ban prompt him to offer other proposals as well, like limiting how high the fines can be.

“I did file several different bills because it’s not my number one priority, but it is something that I’m interested in, with the proliferation of these cameras that are just popping up everywhere,” Zaun says.

Many Iowa cities now have contracts with private companies that operate the cameras and those firms get a portion of the fines.

“The reason why I bring that up is that, statewide, anywhere from 40 to 60 percent is their cut,” Zaun says. “And I think that’s a little bit excessive and a rip off to the people of the state of Iowa.”

Zaun is sponsoring other bills that suggest different uses for the fines generated by traffic cameras, like having the fines deposited in the state fund that finances road and bridge construction. Zaun isn’t predicting which of these proposals has the greatest chance of passage.

“My prediction is there will be something, some legislation that will be passed in regards to limiting traffic enforcement cameras in the state of Iowa,” Zaun says.

In April of last year the Iowa House voted to ban traffic cameras, but the bill dies in the Senate. Supporters say the cameras have improved traffic safety. Critics say the cameras violate due process rules for motorists because there’s no on-the-scene judgment from a cop who can take into account weather conditions, the speed of other vehicles and other factors when deciding to issue a ticket.