CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Through mid-October, the first seven months of the Cedar Rapids traffic cameras led to more than 41,000 citations issued.
Cedar Rapids police chief Greg Graham has said, all along, that changing driving habits and getting people to follow the law is the primary reason for the installation of ten cameras throughout the city.
Yet the revenue is also hard to ignore. GATSO is the company that gets $30 for each ticket the cameras issue.
""I've had a lot of people tell me how nice it is to get on and off the Interstate now," said Graham, in an interview on November 5 at police headquarters.
Initially billed as "red-light cameras", the speed cameras on Interstate 380 are now bringing in the solid majority of money. A data analysis of a public records request revealed in September 2010, 10,522 citations were issued between the two cameras at I-380/Diagonal Drive and I-380/H Avenue, both in the northbound lanes. That averages out to about 350 tickets a day.
September 25 was an especially busy day for traffic and tickets. Saturday. Hawkeye football traffic in the morning. 449 citations led to the billing of $33,425 for drivers.
In the weeks since, a third camera went "live" on I-380, this time in the southbound lanes at H Avenue. October 16, also a Saturday, saw 614 citations issued just on Interstate 380. The total amount billed for that day alone: $45,150.
The tenth and final camera will go "live" on I-380 at Diagonal Drive soon but in the southbound lanes.
Graham said the city has a ten-camera agreement with GATSO and there are no plans to add more cameras, at the present time.
Other findings from the data analysis through mid-October:
Total Citations: 38,327
Red Light Citations: 2,470 (6.4%)
Speed Citations: 35,857 (93.5%)
Is Cedar Rapids getting the money from the citations? The data also revealed:
53.8% of the tickets issued have been paid (20,641 paid tickets).
Payment Pending Tickets: 11,674 (30.4%)
Tickets Sent to Collections: 3,167 (8.3%)
Undeliverable: 663 (1.7%)
Many people who are driving also want to know about the "tolerance" built into the speed cameras. The police department sets the tolerance at a specific level. They will not say, publicly, what the gap is but the data analysis also shows the "lowest ticketed speed" for each intersection.
Bottom line, drivers: Stay within 10 miles per hour of the speed limit. Here is what we found:
- 1st Avenue & L Street: 35 MPH Speed Limit. Lowest ticketed speed: 47
- 1st Avenue & 10th Street: 30 MPH Speed Limit. Lowest ticketed speed: 42
- 2nd Avenue & 10th Street SE: 30 MPH Speed Limit. Lowest ticketed speed: 41
- 2nd Avenue & 3rd Street SW: 30 MPH Speed Limit. Lowest ticketed speed: 41
- 2nd Avenue & 6th Street SW: 30 MPH Speed Limit. Lowest ticketed speed: 41
- Center Point Road & Collins Road NE: 35 MPH Speed Limit. Lowest ticketed speed: 47
- Edgewood Road & 42nd Street NE: 40 MPH Speed Limit. Lowest ticketed speed: 52
- Interstate 380: 55 MPH Speed Limit. Lowest ticketed speed: 67
"The tolerance is set fairly high and it's certainly reasonable," said Graham. "If I wanted these things to make more money, I'd set the the tolerance low but that is not the purpose. The purpose is to change driver behavior."