Council Bluffs red light cameras bring in thousands of dollars for city

If you’ve ever been to Council Bluffs, you probably know all about those red light cameras placed around the city.

Maybe you’ve even gotten a ticket in the mail.

FOX 42 wanted to know just how much money the city is making off of those traffic enforcement systems.

The numbers are adding up quickly more than ten years after the start of the cameras.

In Council Bluffs, it’s easy to get a traffic ticket.

You can miss a warning sign or run a light, and before you know it, you’re on camera.

“I knew it was coming because I remember seeing the light flash,” said Alisa Roth, who considers herself a careful driver.

Even she got a ticket.

“It wasn’t totally unexpected,” she said. “It was one of those things where you pay up and move along.”

Roth isn’t alone.

Since 2010, more than 600,000 citations have been issued in Iowa.

The videos of violators caught in the act end up at local police departments.

Council Bluffs Police Sergeant Jason Bailey says it’s alarming what the evidence reveals in some cases.

In 2014, nine years after red light cameras were activated at five Council Bluffs intersections, the Iowa department of transportation logged 43 crashes.

That’s 22 more than in 2004 before the cameras were put into place at those same intersections.

As drivers break the law and the fines pile up, Council Bluffs winds up making quite a bit of money.

FOX 42 went digging for just how much money is made and uncovered that since 2005, when the cameras first went up, the city has made more than $6,000,000 dollars.

Since fiscal year 2016, more than $900,000 have been raked in.

“We’re creating better drivers,” said City Attorney Don Bauermeister. “What I mean by that is we’re catching the bad driving habits and then we expose them and shed some light on it.”

Bauermeister says not everyone who gets a camera citation ends up having to pay.

In his office, you can appeal.

If you can make a strong case that you don’t deserve a ticket, you may get the benefit of the doubt.

Statewide, it’s the kind of process not everyone has used.

Stats show since 2010 only about 20,000 citations out of 660,000 have successfully been appealed.

“I think once people look at the video and sit down and review what they’re supposed to do, it really brings about an awareness to the everyday driver,” Bauermeister said.

For the people who don’t appeal, Bauermeister says the fines can range anywhere from $65 to $100.

As for speed cameras, Bailey says he’s not aware of any plans to put those in the Council Bluffs area.

Local engineers tell us there are currently no plans for red light cameras in the city of Omaha.

Similarly, South Dakota rejected Iowa’s red light camera tickets two years ago.

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