Our state is short almost 100 state troopers for radar protection and accident responsiveness, and roadway fatalities in the state surpassed 400 for the first time in nearly a decade. And yet, rural lawmaker Senator Brad Zaun wants to remove our traffic cameras along I-380 despite proven facts they have been instrumental in making that highway much safer. That’s an extremely counterproductive and shortsighted view.
My father worked as a bridge inspector and land surveyor for the Iowa Department of Transportation and old Highway Commission for more than 40 years. I remember standing on the I-380, Five In One bridge deck with him while it was under construction when I was in high school back in 1975. He marveled at the architecture but wondered at the time how traffic would negotiate the S-curve through town at 70-75 mph, especially in the winter. Well, as we now know, many hundreds if not thousands did not drive through Cedar Rapids safely, leaving countless injuries, fatalities and millions of dollars in property damage to trucks and cars, including several CRPD squad cars. Something had to be done to slow the traffic down.
Speeds were reduced in the city, but not many heeded the new laws — at least not until speed cameras were installed. I have driven in this city 43 years, and I have never felt safer on I-380. Drivers are distracted now more than ever, and speeding faster more than ever, and I believe those cameras keep me safer along with my wife and 13-year-old son. Those who obey the speed limits — and even if you are 10 mph over it — do not receive a ticket.
The vast majority of drivers have caught on and adjusted accordingly thanks to the implementation of this keen safety feature on our interstate. I like the cameras and almost everyone I talk to in the city agrees. The cameras save lives, reduce injuries and property damage and obviously they also reduce our overall health care and insurance costs in the state and country. The pros of the cameras far exceed the cons. Senator Zaun, please reconsider your opposition to these “safety” cameras and focus your priorities on hiring 100 more Iowa state troopers!
• Wade Wagner, of Cedar Rapids, is a former Cedar Rapids Parks Commissioner and city council member.