10/3/2013Iowa To Regulate Speed Cameras On State Highways
Iowa Department of Transportation proposes regulations to limit use of red light cameras and speed cameras on state roads.
Local jurisdictions will no longer be free to install speed cameras or red light cameras on state roads in Iowa without prior approval from the state. On Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Transportation published the rules it intends to use to limit and regulate the use of automated ticketing machines. In announcing the policy, department officials admitted improper use of speed cameras can actually cause accidents.
"The rules will ensure placement does not cause unnecessary distractions or obstructions for motorists that could cause unsafe situations," Iowa DOT Director Paul Trombino said in a statement. "Our belief is that automatic traffic enforcement systems should be used as a last resort after other safety measures have been exhausted."
The rules lay out a number of general principles, beginning with the statement that engineering solutions must be implemented before ticketing programs and that cameras should never be considered a "long-term solution" to a traffic safety problem. The principles discourage use of cameras on interstate highways because the amount of pass-through traffic makes it unlikely drivers will be aware the systems are in use, making improvement in driver behavior unlikely. The Iowa DOT will not operate any cameras on its own, but local jurisdictions must seek the agency's approval before using cameras on state roads.
To receive permission, a jurisdiction must submit a comprehensive engineering assessment to prove there is a safety motivation for the use of cameras. The proposal lists specific factors that must be included, such as the accident history of the location. Only crashes caused by speeding or red light running will be considered, and these figures will be compared to similar jurisdictions or areas to verify whether they are out of the ordinary. The report must list other measures taken to improve safety at the location. Under the proposal, requests will be considered within ninety days, and the justification report will be published on the state website.
The department's proposal imposes a number of restrictions that differ from current photo enforcement industry practice. For instance, the rule considers the use of a mobile speed camera car on an interstate highway shoulder unacceptably dangerous. Nearly all mobile speed camera vehicles in the US are owned by and registered to a speed camera company, even when painted to appear like a police vehicle. This practice could come to an end in Iowa.
"Mobile automated traffic enforcement systems in a vehicle shall be owned and operated by a law enforcement agency, be marked with official decals, and have an 'official' license plate affixed to the vehicle," the proposed rule states.
The Iowa DOT is taking public comments on the proposed rule through October 31, and a public hearing is scheduled for October 30 in Ankeny. A copy of the rule is available in 150k PDF file at the source link below.