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USA: New Legislation in Iowa Would Ban Traffic Cameras

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Traffic Cameras

A crackdown on distracted driving in the state is even being implemented in conjunction with the bill, a move that has just raised concerns among the families of Iowans who have died in such accidents.

On Tuesday, Iowa law enforcement officials and the distraught families of Iowans who were killed by distracted drivers gathered in a Senate committee room to discuss an idea that would simultaneously outlaw automated traffic cameras and crack down on drivers who use their smartphones while driving.Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, who has long attempted to outlaw traffic cameras, put forth a proposal to combine the two problems into one bill. More than twelve people voiced their opposition. To advance Senate Study Bill 3016, a Senate subcommittee voted 2 to 1.

Since receiving a citation in 2011 for having his son speeded while operating the senator’s vehicle in Cedar Rapids, Zaun has worked to outlaw the cameras.

Zaun stated that he believes “fundamentally” the traffic cameras are illegal, despite his dislike of being on the other side of a legal dispute.

The gadgets record video of cars running or speeding through dark lights. The license tag number is then displayed on the images a camera vendor has taken, and law enforcement issues citations to the listed owners of the vehicle.

Three Iowans who were killed by smartphone-distracted drivers begged Zaun to advance a stand-alone bill to forbid hand-held use of wireless devices while driving.

Senators were informed by Peter Bengston that his daughter Ellen was killed in 2020 while riding her bicycle close to Charles City by a driver who was using an app on his cellphone.

Benston remarked,” She did nothing wrong, but the driver confessed and got away with it due to the law at the time. This is a matter of public highway safety, and we kindly ask that you make the public aware of the clean hands-free while-driving bill and spare other families from experiencing the loss my family is currently experiencing.”

Officers claim that because drivers can claim they were making a call or using the device’s GPS, which is also permitted under Iowa law, it is challenging to enforce the state ban on texting while driving that was enacted in 2017.

The bill makes exceptions for using an electrical device in voice-activated or hands-free mode, for first responders on duty, and for medical professionals acting in an emergency. Additionally, it offers exceptions for people operating farm equipment, sure radio operators, and transit drivers who receive weather or emergency alerts and report an emergency situation.

Derrius Taylor-Ly, the 22-year-old son of Altoona resident Veronica Young, was killed in Bremer County next year by a driver who ran swerves. The photo was in her possession.

Young remarked “Hands-free is such a great deal and could save thus much heartache. My son was significant. My son had a bright future that was taken away for no apparent reason, and he meant the world to many people besides only his family.”

Near Fort Dodge resident Kristi Castenson displayed a picture of her husband and their family. A driver using a smartphone killed Dave Castenson and his 85-year-old mother in 2015. The driver avoided jail time by receiving a probationary sentence.

Because we are losing far too many people or people are being injured, she said,” We must take action as citizens to protect the people in Iowa and everywhere.” It has an impact on the rest of their lives.

Next year, more people perished on Iowan roads than in the previous five years combined. In Iowa, a total of 378 people perished in auto accidents in 2023, an increase of 12 % from 2022. Some of the motorist behaviors that increased fatalities include increased speed, distracted driving, impaired driving patterns, and never wearing seat belts.

In recent years, law enforcement officials have urged lawmakers to enact legislation that would forbid hand-held portable device use while operating a vehicle in Iowa. Early this year, the Iowa Senate largely approved Senate File 547, but the House took a break.

Zaun suggested that House Republicans ‘ support for banning traffic cameras would allay concerns about the bill’s distracted driving provisions when he stated that “he chose to pair the two proposals because I want to pass something finally.”

Zaun, who had voted against the hands-free while-driving bill in the Senate, said,” It’s a big safety problem.”

The system has prevented deaths

After July 1, 2025, Zaun was urged to abandon his proposal to outlaw traffic cameras in Iowa by troopers and officers from Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, and Fayette. The proposals, according to lobbyists from cities and police agencies, would restrict a crucial traffic safety measure that has been successful in lowering traffic crashes.

Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, opposed the bill, claiming that it would enact onerous regulations and eliminate a crucial source of funding for public safety.

In 2010, Cedar Rapids put in its initial speed cameras. According to a report from the Parliamentary Services Agency, automatic traffic enforcement systems were in place in at least 19 Iowa cities and towns as of March 2022, including Sioux City, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Muscatine, Council Bluffs. In 2023, Marion added automated traffic cameras.

Over the past few years, lawmakers have proposed a number of solutions to control traffic cameras, citing privacy concerns and claiming that some cities use them to generate revenue.

The cameras are used for speed and crimson light enforcement at nine locations along Cedar Rapids ‘ main thoroughfares and highway system, including four speed cameras around the S-curve on Interstate 380 close to downtown.

According to Cedar Rapids Police Captain “Our automatic traffic enforcement program has always been about safety.” Legislators were informed by Cody Estling. And we are aware that our system has saved lives.

Advantages of Traffic Cameras

The cameras offer 24/7 traffic monitoring and enforcement at a substantially lower cost than sending officers to those areas, according to Estling and various state police officials. Cities can now concentrate their limited resources abroad.

To ensure that traffic cameras are used for safety rather than for financial gain, law enforcement officials said they are ready to install guardrails on their use.

Zaun expressed concern over the “proliferation” of systems in smaller communities, claiming to have heard from local police that the cameras are being used to raise money due to a lack of funding.

That is not the justification for installing traffic enforcement cameras, he claimed.

Viktor Musil

Victor Musil, pen name for Edouard Py, advocates for inclusive, people-centered city development. His work underscores the importance of ethical considerations and equitable access, shaping the discourse on urban innovation worldwide.

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