Red-light cams don't thrive in Clive

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 8/20/2013

The city of Clive, Iowa, is playing a serious game of red light, green light, with camera enforcement. And with crash rates up at camera-enforced intersections but down overall in the city, policymakers are finding it difficult to justify using the enforcement tool.

The Clive City Council reinstated use of the cameras on Monday, Aug. 19, but with a few conditions attached. First, the cameras are to be shut off for good on June 30, 2014. Second, the operator, Redflex, gets a smaller cut of the ticket proceeds than it did before.

Council members briefly suspended use at its nine camera-enforced intersections in July before deciding on a 10-month phase out and repeal of the ordinance that allows the cameras.
Redflex had received $56.50 from each $100 ticket issued for violations caught on camera in 2012, while the city of Clive got the other $43.50. The council redefined Redflex’s contract, reducing the company’s take to $31.50 while boosting Clive’s amount to $68.50 per ticket.

Red-light camera advocates continue to claim a safety benefit, but the stats in Clive indicate something else.

Councilman Michael McCoy told “Land Line Now” that the number of accidents at intersections enforced by red-light cameras increased from 13 in 2008 to 26 in 2012. Meanwhile, the number of accidents citywide decreased from 330 in 2008 to 244 in 2012.

“Accidents citywide have decreased 22 percent. Accidents at the red-light camera-enforced intersections have increased anywhere from 100 to 105 percent,” McCoy said. “That just tells you exactly what you need to know.”

McCoy says longer yellow-light times would make more sense. Not having a law enforcement officer present also creates a problem.

“The ticket goes to the vehicle, not to the driver,” he said. “You can’t change behavior when you’re punishing a vehicle and not a driver.”

OOIDA opposes red-light cameras.

A Texas Transportation Institute study from 2005 showed that increased durations of yellow-light times at camera-enforced intersections had a direct safety benefit and reduced the number of traffic violations.

“Land Line Now” Staff Reporter Reed Black contributed to this story.

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