Traffic cameras that cite people for speeding or running a red light soon will be considered for use like a traffic signal under rules being considered by the Iowa Department of Transportation.

State legislators have repeatedly tried and failed to outlaw what the DOT calls automated traffic enforcement technology, so the Department of Transportation is setting guidelines for their use on the state’s primary highway system. In Davenport, that includes traffic cameras on Brady and Harrison streets and River Drive, which are U.S. 61 and U.S. 67, respectively, as well as Kimberly Road, which also is U.S. 6.

The DOT is expected to require studies to determine whether traffic cameras would lower crashes rather than serve simply as revenue generators. The rule-making process began November and is wrapping up with rules for temporary camera uses, such as Davenport’s camera van.

“The Legislature hasn’t done anything, and the use of these things has exploded,” said Steve Gent, Iowa DOT’s traffic and safety director. “The DOT feels we have some responsibility to maintain the safety of the roads.”

The DOT will require traffic safety data in the determination of where to locate traffic cameras. A city will have to submit a “justification report” and show the proposed location isn’t safe or effective with conventional enforcement, doesn’t meet the traffic safety need, has a significant history of crashes and that automated enforcement can manage traffic.

“We just want statewide uniformity,” Gent said. “The study will determine what is the real problem at this location. What are the possible counter measures? It is a process like that.

“Automated traffic enforcement is a possible counter-measure. We contend as an independent agency that automated enforcement should be one of the last things you do, rather than the first thing you do.”

Gent was critical of traffic camera companies that entice cities with their product.

“These companies come in from out of state and offer one solution: Put up a camera,” he said. “That isn’t the solution.”

Davenport Police Chief Frank Donchez said he hasn’t followed the rule-making process, and City Attorney Tom Warner said that when the city put a speed camera on River Drive, a traffic safety study was done. Along with the speed camera installation, the speed limit in the area was increased from 35 mph to 40 mph. Red light cameras were located at intersections that averaged six or more crashes per year.

The state won’t regulate the amount of fines but will require an annual report from cities with traffic cameras.

(5) comments

James S

These cameras do NOTHING to reduce accidents, rather they fund private companies that own and operate the machines. The photos are not used in wrongful death cases, in cases of impairment, and rarely in cases of excessive speed. They are for revenue ONLY! What Mark said is 100% true. When there aren't enough red-light violations, the yellow lights are shortened. All of you in Iowa (and those in the People's Republic of Illinois) should do your homework. If more money is what you want, raise the gas tax, because when 11 over doesn't work, it will go to 6 over, then 3. Do your homework.


You can bet that if the State of Iowa ends up telling any city that certain red light cameras/radar devices are not justified at a particular location, that the city and private vendor will simply move the affected devices to a different location (that is not a state controlled road) where potential is great for a lucrative income to the city and private vendor. The city and vendor will not be denied their respective incomes.


It seems that modern government uses taxation as its primary form of punishment and enforcement. It sets up situations where local government has a vested interest in taxing and fining its population. We need to set limits on all this automatic enforcement and surveillance before the situation gets out of hand completely.

Mark Riley 4 State Senate
Mark Riley 4 State Senate

The arugument that "they are placed where the most acidents take place is a laugh." Of course these are the most accident prone intersections they are also the busiest ala "thats a bingo" the most revenue. This is no different than the :"mob" tactics of Eldridge that puts its "barney fife" out on hwy 61 with a speed trap at 1am. No safety threat to the town of Eldrige unless you are doing a 100mph and flip of the bridge and hit a stray dog below. None of that infastructer is paid for by Eldridge but their "barney" is out there trying to snare revenue. The same goes for Buff, BG and Maqu collecting revenue on a state road instead of patrolling their town.

Mark Riley 4 State Senate
Mark Riley 4 State Senate

These are nothing more than revenue generators that unfairly tax the working poor. The legislature has abdicated the tough decision to properly fund projects with taxes and or suffer the voters displeasure for such decisions and given the power of revenue raising to the excutive branch or the beaucracy which is insulated from the voters. USA Today and the QC Times have done news pieces that have exsposed the revenue genrating scams that municipalities have engaged in to make budget shortfalls. Yellow lights being a prime example. Intersections with red light camera's have been proven to shorten the yellow light time in order to "pop" more offenders in the intersection when its red. The fact that we allow "capitalist" to scheme and profit from the insallation and administration of such devices would cause the founding fathers to try current leaders as seditious to the constitution and the intent of seperation of power and authority to take revenue from the people with out accountability at the ballot.

Then of course there is the irony and hypocrisy of Iowa state and local goverment which fails to provide mass transite that is affordable, reliable and capable of allowing its citizens to work with out owning a car and while voting down every light rail project and the federal dollars that come with it. Make your citizens own cars and then prey on them for having one. And dont bother with the Shylock argument that the law is the law and its all about breaking the law!

Obama's Lawyer's in their oral arguments before the Supreme Court last year regarding the goverments desire to allow law enforcement to place tracking devices on cars with out obtaining a warrant made this comment. "a police officier can stop any car they want at any time because there are so many traffic rules, that no one can drive with out violating one of them". A response to a question of how currently a police officer must have a violation or reason to stop a automobile. But it makes the case that safety is a sham and law compliance is also a sham and revenue is the only issue.

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