The city of Des Moines plans will start sending out tickets again next week for those caught on cameras going too fast along a section of Interstate 235.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on April 27th of this year that the Department of Transportation doesn’t have the authority to stop Des Moines and other cities from using traffic cameras along interstates. Des Moines Police Department spokesman, Sergeant Paul Parizek, says there was a lot of discussion before deciding to resume sending out tickets on June 25th.
“We know there is going to be some blow-back from the community and we needed to evaluate whether or not the impact on public safety and the value of those cameras is worth what we want to do,” Parizek says. Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Muscatine sued the state after the DOT ordered some of the cameras to be shut down — saying they were not making the roadways safer. Parizek says the cameras were still recording speeds — even though they stopped sending out tickets back on April 26th of 2017.
“We saw a significant increase in the number of speeders that were above 71 miles-per-hour in that one-year period. I think it was close to well over a 100 percent increase. And top speeds of over 100 miles-an-hour,” Parizek says. “So that kind of answered the question for us — yeah these do have an impact on voluntary compliance.” He did not have the numbers on how many more accidents there were at that time.
“I guess we’re of the mindset that we don’t want to see that, so whatever we can do to change it or to prevent it we are gonna do….we don’t want to see people getting hurt or getting killed before we do something simple to prevent those things,” according to Parizek. The cities make millions of dollars from the cameras and that sparked the debate on whether they are there for safety or to bring in revenue.
“If people think it’s a money grab, the only thing we can say about that is. if you don’t want to give us your money, don’t speed,” Parizek says. “And these limits are set for a reason — and that reason is safety.” Parizek says they’ve learned something else from using the traffic cameras.
“People are pretty fickle when it comes to technology,” he says, “They love it if it helps them out, but if it cramps their style or slows them down in life, they are not big fans of it.” Parizek says the technology not only improves the safety of drivers — it also keeps officers safe when they don’t have to pull cars over on the busy interstate.
Parizek says the shoulders of the interstate are pretty narrow and not safe when two cars are pulled over. “So, this is a good way for us to do more with less.”
Numerous attempts by the legislature to ban the cameras have failed, but the sergeant doesn’t think that debate is over.
“I would bet my next paycheck that the Iowa State Legislature is going to address the speed camera issue one more time next year,” Parizek says. A spokesperson for the city of Cedar Rapids says the city has not made a decision on sending out speed camera tickets again. She says the city council will discuss it with the public first and them move forward.
The cameras in Des Moines go will start sending out violations at 12:01 a-m on the 25th. Anyone going more than 71 miles-an-hour in the 60 miles-an-hour speed zone, will be sent a citation. The fines remain the same; $65 for speed violations of one to 15 miles above the posted speed limit, $75 for violations 16-20 miles over the posted speed limit and $80 plus $2 for every mile-an-hour above 21 miles-an-hour over the posted speed limit.