Iowa cities will face new hurdles on traffic cameras

The Iowa Transportation Commission unanimously approved new rules yesterday regarding local use of cameras to enforce traffic laws on speeding and running red lights. You can read the rules proposed by the Iowa Department of Transportation here (pdf). A brief summary is after the jump.

Assuming the Iowa legislature's Administrative Rules Review Committee allows the regulations to take effect, city or county governments will have to do more to gain approval from the Iowa DOT for installing or maintaining traffic cameras on roads. Iowa DOT Director Paul Trombino assured commissioners that the department will not ban traffic cameras, but officials will need to see evidence that cameras are being used for safety reasons and not primarily as a way to collect revenue. Dar Danielson and Mike Wiser both covered the transportation commission hearing.

The Iowa DOT pursued new rulemaking on this issue after bills that would have banned local governments from using traffic cameras for law enforcement stalled during the 2012 and 2013 legislative sessions.

Reasonable minds can differ on whether cameras are justified to enforce speeding laws. Regardless of your personal feelings, it's striking as another example of Governor Terry Branstad's administration and Republican lawmakers moving away from "local control" and embracing more state constraints on city and county government actions. Some local law enforcement agencies are not happy about the new rules on cameras.

Mike Wiser reported the key points of the new Iowa DOT rules on automated cameras:

Traffic cameras should be considered only after other engineering and enforcement soluctions have been explored and implemented.

Traffic cameras should not be used as a long-term solution.

Communities wanting traffic cameras must file a justification report. Those reports are required to list the critical safety issues involved, what other remedies were discussed and what other solutions have been implemented.

Communities that have traffic cameras must file an annual evaluation with the state on why the systems were installed and whether they are meeting those goals.

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