Public Safety

Cedar Rapids speed cameras issue more than 5,000 citations in first four days

Most violations come on I-380 at J Avenue NE

Speed enforcement cameras are seen over northbound Interstate 380 near J Avenue NE in Cedar Rapids. The cameras were turned back on July 1, and, in the first four days, captured 2,192 vehicles going at least 12 mph over the 55 mph speed limit in the northbound lanes and 2,272 vehicles in the southbound lanes, the city reports. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Speed enforcement cameras are seen over northbound Interstate 380 near J Avenue NE in Cedar Rapids. The cameras were turned back on July 1, and, in the first four days, captured 2,192 vehicles going at least 12 mph over the 55 mph speed limit in the northbound lanes and 2,272 vehicles in the southbound lanes, the city reports. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
/

CEDAR RAPIDS — At least 5,137 tickets were issued in the first four days after the traffic cameras were turned back on July 1 in Cedar Rapids.

The vast majority of those citations — 5,074 — were from the speed cameras, installed in eight locations, including Interstate 380. The city’s four red-light cameras issued 63 citations.

The camera issuing the most citations — 2,272 — was on southbound I-380 at J Avenue NE, followed closely by the northbound I-380 at J Avenue NE with 2,192.

The camera with the fewest citations — 2 — was the red-light camera at Edgewood Road and 42nd Street NE.

In the first four days of July, the highest recorded speed was 111 mph, though that citation has yet to be reviewed and approved,

Of the reviewed citations, the fastest speed was 96 mph on southbound I-380 at J Avenue NE.

But a majority of the speeders — 4,885 citations — were going 12 to 20 mph over the 55 mph limit, according to public safety spokesperson Greg Buelow. That’s a $75 fine.

The rest of the citations were for:

• 152 vehicles: 21 to 25 mph over the 55 mph limit, a $100 fine.

• 22 vehicles: 26 to 30 mph over, a $250 fine.

• 15 vehicles: 31 mph or more over, a $500 fine

Between Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, the last full year the speed cameras operated, 148,717 violations were captured by the cameras, for an average of 2,860 per week.

Buelow said the 5,137 citations issued in the first four days of July exceed that average, but he was careful to note four days of data are not enough to draw significant conclusions.

“The first week of July was a busy holiday week, and the number of motorists has increased,” he said. “This is why we need to look at a longer period of time.”

The I-380 cameras stopped ticketing in April 2017, and the other cameras were deactivated in September 2018 because of two lawsuits. The Iowa Supreme Court sided with Cedar Rapids in both cases, clearing the way for the city to reactivate the cameras, which it did June 1.

Drivers were given a 30-day grace period, when the cameras issued 14,063 warnings, including 97 for red-light violations.

The cameras began issuing citations July 1.

The camera citations go through two reviews — first by Sensys Gatso, the vendor that provided the cameras and then by a Cedar Rapids police officer — before a citation is mailed to the owner of the vehicle.

Those reviews take time, so the numbers the city was able to provide reflect only the citations issued in early July, Buelow said.

Police on Tuesday evening noted one motorist was mistakenly ticketed for driving 60 mph, only 5 mph above the posted limit. Police apologized and said the ticket would be dismissed.

Since the cameras were installed in 2010, there has been a 62 percent reduction in injury crashes on I-380 in Cedar Rapids and a 37 percent reduction in overall crashes, Buelow said.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Additionally, one fatal crash was recorded on I-380 between 2010 and 2017 when the cameras were activated. Seven fatal crashes occurred between 2003 and 2009, before the cameras, Buelow said.

Since the cameras were turned off on the interstate in May 2017, the number of crashes increased to 6.78 per month and 1.17 crashes resulting in injuries per month, with one fatal.

The city previously forecast the cameras would bring in $4.7 million in revenue in the first year of operation. But the city has struggled to collect fines, with about 45 percent of violations in the last full year of operation going unpaid.

Of the proceeds, $1.7 million is earmarked to pay Gatso, with the going to hire 10 officers and an administrator to help process the tickets.

• Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.