our view

June 9, 2011 |

Safety is not the issue but the excuse


Seven recently installed traffic cameras. Millions of dollars in potential net revenue for the city. And thousands of pissed off residents and visitors.

Welcome to Des Moines, where safety comes first.


Safety is not the issue. Safety is the excuse.

These traffic cameras are all about filling the city's coffers during tough financial times. Some may call this creative financing for the general fund on the city's part. We call it despicable.

City officials continue to claim that the cameras are all about safety, but keep in mind that the city of Cedar Rapids reported more than $2.6 million in gross revenue in its first nine months after camera installation, proving that the city has the stench of greed, too.

The majority of the tickets from these cameras will prove to come from people who slow down but don't come to complete stops, or those who follow the flow of traffic and exceed the limit by 5-10 mph.

And the cash will roll in.

We appreciate the warnings through the end of the month, as most of us will need a gentle reminder or two. Then when the real tickets come in, we will do our best to avoid those areas, further hurting those neighborhood businesses that need the traffic. Or maybe we will stop at each intersection for a full five to 10 seconds, backing up traffic and causing further potential accidents. Asinine? Yes. But so are these cameras.

Current fines for red-light violations will be $65, and fines for speeding will range from $65 to $80 for up to 21 mph with fines going up by $2 for every additional mile per hour over the limit. Now that the traffic cameras door is open, we should expect these devices at every intersection, as the addiction to this revenue stream will become too overpowering for city officials to pass up.

Any ticket, regardless of the dollar amount, is going to piss off drivers and make them think twice before breaking the law again. So if these cameras are really about safety - and not money - how about reducing all fines to $10?

Exactly. CV