- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa senator plans to push legislation that would ban automated traffic-enforcement cameras that he says are primarily revenue sources for cities instead of safety measures.

Republican Sen. Brad Zaun said he is optimistic that the plan will be approved by the Legislature during the next legislative session, the Quad-City Times (https://bit.ly/2hzVE0W ) reported.

Zaun noted the controversy surrounding the company running Davenport’s camera program, Redflex Traffic Systems. Redflex’s former CEO was sentenced in November to 30 months in federal prison for bribing government officials for contracts in big cities, and the company is being sued by Chicago for over $300 million.

“There have been so many abuses,” Zaun said. “It’s become more about generating revenue versus public safety.”

Zaun also argued that many cameras often show inaccurate data because they’ve been improperly calibrated or checked.

However, Davenport traffic engineer Gary Statz said there’s been a large reduction in red light crashes at intersections with cameras. He also cited a 34 percent decrease in vehicle trauma injuries, as reported by Genesis Health System.

“The large reduction in red light crashes has shown the effectiveness of our program,” Statz said. “We also believe this program has raised awareness of the dangers of speeding and red light running.”

Statz told the Iowa Department of Transportation that data showing the downward trend in crashes are accurate because cameras are checked every month.

Zaun said the bill will likely make it to Gov. Terry Brandstad’s desk while Brandstad is still in office. The governor has been tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to be the ambassador to China.

The Iowa House has approved similar legislation in the past, but it was blocked by Senate Democrats. With Republicans now taking a majority in the Senate, Zaun hopes the bill will go through.

“We’ve had the votes before. The only reason it didn’t go through was because the Senate majority leader wouldn’t let it come up for a vote,” he said.

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Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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