The state has no laws governing their use, leaving the decision to county supervisors and city councils to decide whether to install them. Camera critics claim their use has little to do with safety and is more about revenue.
Cedar Rapids is projected to generate about $4.6 million in revenue in the current year and Sioux City about $2.7 million. Des Moines gets more than $1 million a year.
Law enforcement officials defend their use, saying roads and intersections are safer when cameras are monitoring drivers and enforcing the law.
Iowa DOT officials said since they get no funding from them, their motivation is purely safety. They have concluded that automated cameras should be a last resort safety measure.
“There are lots of things we can do that we should try first and that’s really where the DOT is with these things,” said Steve Gent, director of the DOT’s office of traffic and safety.