Cops can’t say if speed cameras reduce accidents


With two months still to go in the year since LeClaire’s two speed cameras have been issuing tickets, more than 88,000 motorists have been cited.

By the end of January, the city’s camera vendor, Sweden-based Sensys Gatso Group, had levied $6,310,150 in fines.

Of the $4,331,375 collected in speed-camera fines to date, the city’s portion was $2,214,110. The remaining $2,117,265 went to Sensys Gatspo, city records indicate.

LeClaire’s agreement with the vendor gives Sensys 35% of the total fees for the first three years after installation. The company gets another 25% of fines collected when they are paid after 120 days, because of additional collection efforts.

When the cameras were introduced in January 2021, Police Chief Shane Themas wrote a statement, saying their purpose was to reduce traffic crashes. One is located on Interstate 80 near the I-80 bridge. The other is at the 2300 block of U.S. Highway 67, or South Cody Road, and both cameras measure speed in both directions of travel.

“In the last 10 years, there have been a total of 334 vehicular accidents on I-80 and Highway 67, just within our corporate city limits,” Themas wrote. “These have included a total of 552 vehicles, three fatalities and over 115 injuries.”

In other words, the statistics indicate, an average of 15 crashes were occurring near each enforcement location annually.

Since the cameras went live in March, nearly 40,000 fines have been levied totaling $2,749,775.

However, more than a year after the cameras were installed, no data is yet available regarding their impact on traffic safety. No plans are yet in place to analyze the data, the police chief said.

“I can say that it is still too soon to analyze the effects of the cameras on crash data,” Themas said Friday. “From the data we do have, the number of citations are going down as time goes by, telling us that vehicles are slowing down.

“It is our intention to analyze the data, but we don’t have the manpower to get that completed right now.”

He previously has acknowledged that the traffic cameras can be unpopular with the motoring public, regardless the city, but he assured they will produce the desired results.

“We understand that ATE (automated traffic enforcement) can be frustrating for some, but as always, we are being as transparent as possible and hope that this information has provided answers to any questions or concerns about the program,” Themas wrote in his January 2021 statement. “This new technology has proven time and time again, in several other cities, to be extremely effective in reducing speed-related accidents and improving all-around traffic safety. We are confident that it will do the same for our citizens and roadways.”

The bulk of the speeding citations written since March of 2021 were for speeds between 11 and 20 mph over the posted limit. In that category, more than 72,000 tickets were issued, amounting to $5,438,550.

By comparison, for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Davenport’s eight traffic cameras brought in $1.5 million in revenue.

The LeClaire City Council is scheduled to discuss the traffic-enforcement cameras and their preferred use of the revenue generated by them at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Feb. 22.

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