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Iowans Still Split on Traffic Cameras

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows Iowans are still split on red light and speed cameras. 51 percent of those surveyed said they want to ban all traffic cameras, 46 percent support them, and 3 percent aren't sure.

Traffic enforcement cameras have been in heavy discussion in the state legislature. State Senator Walt Rogers introduced a bill that would change how the traffic camera revenue is used. Instead of using the money at the local level, the Cedar Falls Republican wants it to go to state projects, like road improvements. Another pending bill looks to prohibit the traffic camera gear all together.

The city of Cedar Rapids has had traffic cameras in place for nearly 3 years. Cedar Rapids Police Chief, Wayne Jerman, said they are doing what they were put in place to do. "Speed cameras and red light cameras clearly show that they are effective in reducing collisions, reducing injuries, and reducing fatalities," Jerman said.

But local drivers still have mixed emotions. "I guess it doesn't really bother me," said Aleshia Chambers, of Anamosa. "It seems like they get real congested where they are at. Everybody kind of slams on their brakes at the last second and then right after they pass them and then speed back up," added Jacob Macomber, of Cedar Rapids. Macomber also said he prefers receiving tickets from officers rather than a camera. "I've actually had a ticket from both," he said, "I like it in person because a cop can explain it to you."

Last year, more than 96 thousand traffic camera citations were issued. As of December, the city had collected more than 13 million dollars in revenue since the cameras went up in 2010. But Rogers' proposed bill would mean the police department would no longer see that revenue. "Drivers need to obey they speed limit. Whatever happens to the money is secondary in my opinion," said Jerman.

Chief Jerman said it's not about money, but changing drivers behavior. While he's not surprised Iowans are split on the issue, he's still unsure why. "For the life of me, I find it very troubling. Who can be against reducing collisions, which in turn reduce injuries and fatalities," he said.

Some of those opposed to the cameras say they just contribute to a surveillance culture. Rogers' bill has passed a subcommittee, but it may hit the brakes in the full House and Senate.

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