The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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August 20, 2013

Crashes up at Clive red-light camera locations

CLIVE (AP) — The number of accidents at Clive intersections monitored by red-light cameras was twice as high in 2012 as it was four years earlier, but the number of accidents citywide dropped 22 percent over the same period, according to a review of data provided to the City Council.

The accident data comes amid a long debate in Clive over use of the cameras, which were discontinued in July but resumed Monday because of concerns about what the halt would mean to the Des Moines suburb’s budget. As part of a deal to again use the traffic cameras, the City Council promised to discontinue the cameras on June 30, 2014.

The Des Moines Register reported Monday that a review of data provided to the council shows 26 accidents occurred at red-light camera intersections in 2012; 13 occurred in 2008.

Throughout the city, accidents dropped, with 244 property damage accidents in 2012 compared to 330 in 2008.

Council member Michael McCoy said that shows the cameras are ineffective at their primary purpose of preventing accidents.

“The underlying problem, safety, isn’t being taken care of by just red lights,” McCoy said. “So, what that does show me, if it’s increased in the red-light camera intersections and decreased citywide, that tells me that it’s actually done the opposite of what it was intended to do, and that is brought accidents, or increased accidents in those intersections,” he said.

Police Chief Michael Venema said using the number of accidents to evaluate the effectiveness of the camera program would be misguided.

“What I caution people is — you’re talking about a very small sample size,” Venema said.

If it ends the traffic cameras as planned, Clive would be the first Iowa city to install and then dismantle a traffic camera system.

Since Davenport became the first Iowa city to install traffic cameras in 2004, dozens of cameras have been put in place throughout the state, including in Council Bluffs, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Muscatine, Sioux City and Windsor Heights.

During the legislative session, a measure that would have required cities and counties to get a permit from the state Department of Transportation before installing new traffic cameras died. The proposal also would have forced local governments to justify existing cameras by submitting traffic data to the department.

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