By KRUI News Reporter Marissa Mehalek
*Note: This blog post is a commentary reflecting on the recent news of red light camera ban in the state of Iowa and the February 4th RoundTable discussion about red light cameras and youth driving safety.
There has been a lot of controversy deriving over the use of red light cameras at intersection lights in Iowa. The Iowa City Council approved the second reading on the ordinance amendment allowing red light cameras at certain Iowa City intersections last week.
Opponents of the state ban believe that the roads have been safer since the implementation of red light cameras. Council Bluffs, Iowa has seen an decrease in car accident numbers after the installation of the cameras in 2009.
“Before the installation of cameras in 2002 through 2004 there were 3,800 car accidents. After cameras were installed in 2009 there were just about 700 accidents per year in the state of Iowa,” said Council Bluffs City Finance Director Art Hill.
Still many Iowans are against the usage of red light cameras. Critics claim that the cameras are a way for municipalities to raise money and are an excuse to take away police discretion.
Red light cameras have been in use across the United States for 15 years across the nation and the first red light cameras were installed in Iowa four years ago.
Red light running accidents make up about 25 percent of accidents per year, which indicates a prevalent safety problem. More severe crashes happen well into a red light. It is difficult for police officers to sit on the side of the road and ticket people going through red lights, so that is why these cameras help.
A stricter regulation in the law generally means lower crash rates, which means lower payouts. Iowa is 49th in the nation, in regards to teenage driving licensing. The law has not been edited in 20 years.
Yellow lights are also part of the discussion, as to how long the yellow light should be. Sometimes increasing the yellow light does help, but sometimes too much time allows drivers to take advantage of it.
Whichever law is passed, the safety of Iowa drivers should be a main priority of officials. Experts anticipate if the law is passed of removing red light cameras, it could contribute to more deaths from car accidents statewide.