Cedar Rapids issued more than 26,000 traffic tickets during first month after its speed cameras were reactivated

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Photo by Kurt Zenisek

Cedar Rapids issued more than 26,000 citations in the first month of operating its traffic cameras since 2017, potentially generating more than $1.4 million in revenue.

According to a new report from the city, almost all of those tickets were for speeding. Only 321 of the 26,424 citations were for a different infraction, running a red light. Approximately 25,800, or nearly 98 percent, of the speeding tickets were issued from the cameras on I-380. More than 4,000 tickets came during the first four days after the reactivation of the camera system on July 1.

In March, the Cedar Rapids City Council approved a two-year contract extension with Sensys Gatso USA (formerly Gatso USA), the Massachusetts-based company that runs the traffic camera system. The company receives $20 from every $75 speeding ticket the system issues, and $22 from each $100 red-light ticket.

The revenue the city receives from the tickets is being used to “enhance public safety” and hire 10 additional police officers, as well as a program coordinator to process municipal infractions, according to the city of Cedar Rapids’ website.

From 2010 to 2016, Cedar Rapids received more than $3 million a year from the traffic cameras, and the majority of tickets — more than 90 percent — came from the cameras on I-380. The traffic cameras were installed in 2010, but the city stopped using them in April 2017, pending the outcome of a series of lawsuits.

Earlier this year, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Cedar Rapids’ speed cameras are legal, rejecting the claim that the cameras violate a driver’s right to due process.

The court also found that the rights of local drivers were not violated by how they are treated compared to out-of-state drivers. While out-of-state drivers who receive tickets can file a written appeal, local drivers cannot. Also, drivers of commercial big rigs and most government vehicles don’t receive tickets from the speed cameras, because their license plate numbers aren’t included in the databases Sensys Gatso USA uses.

The cameras were officially reactivated in June, but drivers initially only received warnings. Almost 85,000 warnings were issued that month.

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