A news report last week on NBC said that deaths caused by drivers running red lights are at a 10-year high. Meanwhile, the Iowa Legislature continues its annual discussion of whether to ban speed and red light camera enforcement.
Last week, I personally witnessed a driver blow through a red light at the intersection of River Drive and Tremont Avenue. I have also witnessed many drivers running the red light at the intersection of Kimberly Road and Elmore Avenue. This is one of the intersections where the Iowa Department of Transportation ordered the city to remove the cameras. This was a result of two things: the pressure from the Iowa Legislature to deal with cameras and the IDOT's faulty analysis of crashes at that intersection. IDOT said crashes there were rear-end incidents, not intersection accidents; therefore, a camera to catch drivers running the red light was not warranted.
My wife was hit from behind at that intersection when she had to brake for another driver who was running the red light. Apparently, the IDOT review didn't consider that.
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The use of cameras is not just about money. Sure, there is a fine but that's no different than a speed trap catching an unwary motorist. Photo enforcement is about public safety. More importantly, it's about behavior modification. Knowing the camera exists hopefully will cause motorists to use greater restraint. So when the issue comes up again in the Iowa Legislature, as it's bound to do, remember the traffic deaths and let your legislator know.
John R. Martin