Police plan to turn on Cedar Rapids speed cameras in July

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The slowdown is coming soon for traffic on I-380 through downtown Cedar Rapids.

Cedar Rapids city council will hear about a plan on Tuesday to once again use the traffic cameras for issuing speeding tickets starting July 1.

The four sets of cameras on I-380 were the busiest of the city's traffic cameras, but the city stopped using them to ticket drivers in April 2017 because of legal questions.

The city council first needs to pass updates in the city ordinance related to how to appeal tickets and what happens if someone doesn’t pay their fines, to fit better with rulings from the Iowa Supreme Court.

Police said revenue from the tickets will help hire more officers, but more importantly, the cameras make driving through Cedar Rapids a lot safer.

“They not only change driver behavior, which results in lower speeds, but they also help reduce the collisions,” said Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman.

Since the cameras stopped issuing tickets on I-380, police say the road has only gotten more dangerous.

"We've seen a marked increase in speeds,” Chief Jerman said. “We've also seen an increase in collisions, collisions that involve injuries. We've also encountered another fatal collision during that time period."

In the seven years the cameras were on, police said the number of crashes fell by 37%, and crashes resulting in injury dropped more than 60%.

"We know that as speeds increase, when collisions or crashes do happen, that the chances of a serious injury or a fatality occurring increase with those speeds,” said Captain Cody Estling with the police department.

Just as before, anyone caught driving 12 or more miles per hour over the speed limit can expect a ticket for at least $75.

"There is a real person element to this because a police officer is reviewing and approving each and every ticket that the program generates,” Capt. Estling said.

Police said they'll use that money to fund 10 new police officer positions, plus a new administrative assistant.

“This is a safety matter, but we're not shirking the fact that there is a revenue component,” Chief Jerman said.

But he added that the point of these cameras isn’t to make money.

"That's why we're doing it, to make the roadways safer for the residents and visitors who come to Cedar Rapids,” he said.

Police said before fines are issued from the cameras starting July 1, there will be a 30-day warning period throughout the month of June.