Officials in the Iowa Department of Transportation are proposing new rules that would govern where automated traffic enforcement cameras may be used on interstates and highways.
“The proposed rules are really to ensure that whenever an automated traffic enforcement camera is used, it is the appropriate device out there,” says Steve Gent, director of the DOT’s office of traffic and safety, “that it’s being used for the right reasons at the right location.”
According to Paul Trombino — the director of the Iowa DOT, traffic cameras should be a “last resort” after other methods of traffic control and safety enhancements have been exhausted. Gent says the proposed rules require annual reports from cities that have installed traffic cameras along highways that run through their city.
“Are traffic crashes being reduced? That’s the biggest issue and it’s always the biggest issue, but then we’re also looking at what’s happening to speeds and/or the number of red light violators out there,” Gent says. “And really, is the system working? Is it appropriate?”
There are cameras catching speeders on the freeways that run through Iowa cities like Cedar Rapids and Des Moines and these rules would apply to those roadways because they’re interstates and part of the “Primary Highway System” which is the DOT’s responsibility. However, the new rules would not apply to traffic cameras posted on streets maintained by Iowa cities or on county roads. In addition, the new rules would not address the fines and fees charged to those caught speeding or running a red light in a zone monitored by a traffic camera.
“That’s more of a legislative issue,” Gent says. “For us, it’s all about making sure that the system is used only when it’s the most appropriate device.”
Gent doesn’t know how many cities or counties may be operating traffic cameras in violation of these proposed rules. A hearing is scheduled October 30 in Ankeny for Iowans who want to make a statement to the DOT about the proposed rules. The agency is also accepting written comments and suggestions throughout the month of October.