Iowa’s shrinking traffic death toll is reason enough to celebrate, but not sufficient to declare any kind of victory for roadway safety.

A Brady Street fatality early Tuesday reminds us that every traffic death is a tragedy, regardless of trends. Still, Iowa is on track for the lowest number of roadway fatalities in six years, according to the Department of Public Safety. Department representative Sgt. Steve Bright credited safer vehicles, smarter drivers and some enforcement efforts.

But he specifically discredited any impact of automated traffic enforcement cameras.

“I have not seen any evidence that speed cameras decrease fatalities. What I have seen is when motorists are aware of the location of the speed cameras, they slow down, and as soon as they get by them, they speed up.”

Bright, speaking on behalf of his entire department, seems incredulous of evidence like data Davenport Police Chief Frank Donchez hoped to share Tuesday with the Iowa Transportation Commission. The commission inexplicably declined to hear from the Iowa police chief who has the most experience with traffic cameras.

It proceeded with recommendations that take traffic camera management away from Davenport and all other Iowa cities and gives it to a state DOT panel. State DOT director Paul Trombino effectively dissed Davenport and other Iowa cities that have carefully implemented automated traffic control: " It's revenue disguised as safety," Trombino proclaimed at the hearing, without even hearing Donchez' pitch.

Davenport – Iowa’s leader in automated enforcement – has demonstrated safety improvements aided by traffic cameras. We believe traffic cameras – just like cameras used for security surveillance, court appearances and countless other uses – represent essential technology that must be managed, not feared. Davenport police chief Donchez makes a strong case for simple management techniques that slow traffic and keep the focus on safety, not revenue. It should make little difference to state police if speeding motorists slow down for marked cameras or for uniformed officers in squad cars.

Davenport has experienced fewer collisions and injuries because of traffic cameras at selected intersections and roadways. The city has been transparent about the location of the cameras and the ticket revenue they generate. Concerns have been litigated to the state Supreme Court and Davenport made significant changes to improve the program.

State transportation and public safety leaders must not ignore that documented success.

(4) comments


After reading that latest crying by the Times I'm convinced that Gluba and his friends sign their checks and buy most of the papers.What a travesty of justice that has been disgracefully shown by the Times.For shame


Be careful ... Correlation does not equal causation. The opinion that the cameras are causing less accidents (if there truly are less accidents) would be helped if there was actual data to prove it. In Florida there is a correlation between the number of shark bites and ice cream sales ... it doesn't mean that shark bites are caused by ice cream.


"Deploy cameras to curb traffic deaths"

Good idea....for every $1,000,000 in fines, $400,000 will fly south to Arizona and not a single nickel of it will ever be spent to buy a copy of the Quad City Times....or to donate to a local charity, or to spend at a local retail business or to gamble away at a local casino...and the list could go on and on. The very same results in fewer accident at ANY intersection can be achieved by making simple changes to traffic lights, posting of more warning signs, periodic police enforcement if needed. But then if they did that, all those dollars would not be flying south to bad idea. It shows that Davenport city leaders are pro-local business by allowing those dollars to leave the area....good job!

And freesenior makes a good point about kids crossing a many cameras do you see installed in front of school buildings?


Leave the cameras in their locations. Move them around if that is part of the plan. Just do not issue tickets, unless an accident takes place. But that does not work because the companies that sell the services could not make money and the city would not get its cut. Questions raised: what price is the community willing to spend on technology for safety? What is the purpose of traffic laws if they are only to be followed when someone is watching? While there may be adjudicated exceptions for violating traffic laws, based upon circumstance or systems problems, the reason for a speed limit is not to make money, it is to reduce the frequency and severity of automobile accidents via an unfriendly reminder to a motorist. The privacy and identification issues are important and that is something for a court to decide. If the operators of a camera system abuse the rights of citizens under some obvious scenarios, than that is a civil or criminal matter and it should be. But that is something that has been troublesome even when it was a speed cop keeping pace or a radar unit hidng behind a building. Some folks just don't care and they have been driving public roads for a long time. They may never get it, but others while inattentive or pre-occupied are not scoff laws and traffic monitoring is intended to remind them that driving a car is a serious business. What price safety? Ask parents as they e watch there child cross a street.

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