City of Tama’s traffic camera grace period begins | News, Sports, Jobs

TR PHOTO BY MICHAEL D. DAVIS Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) cameras have been installed at two locations in Tama — the 1700 block of McClellan Street and the 500 block of East 13th Street. The 30-day grace period begins on Monday, and once it ends, fines and citations will be issued.

TAMA — In early January, the City of Tama’s decision to install traffic cameras in troubled areas became official after the third reading of the amended traffic ordinance received no public opposition. The cameras went up in two locations around Tama in mid-February but were not operational until recently.

A statement released by the Tama Police Department late last week informed citizens that a grace period for drivers would be starting on Monday, March 25. This warning period will last 30 days, so local drivers can become more aware of the cameras and their speed. Only warnings will be issued during this time, not citations.

After the warning period, vehicles going 6-10 miles per hour over the speed limit will be fined $75. The fine gets higher depending on how fast the vehicle was caught traveling.

The 1700 block of McClellan Street and the 500 block of East 13th Street are the locations for the cameras, and they were selected after extensive traffic analysis found them to be areas where high speed violations were committed most frequently. The traffic cameras are attached to poles and catch speeders in a range of 75 feet as they drive away from them. The camera does not take any pictures if the passing vehicle is anywhere below the set threshold.

“There have been no other communities in Tama county that have moved with this option for speed enforcement. Many smaller municipalities around the state of Iowa have, and we vetted these cities and felt this was a right choice to try and make Tama a safer community,” Tama Police Chief Jason Bina said.

The traffic cameras are all ticketed, meaning the money will come from the speeders who are ticketed. The proceeds from each ticket will be split between the city of Tama and the traffic camera company, with Tama keeping the majority share through an estimated 72-28 split.

Before the cameras became a done deal, the city performed a test run at a few locations. Cameras were placed around town simply to see if they would catch anything. The highest speed they clocked was 96 miles per hour by the golf course, while the second highest was 76 miles per hour.

At the original city council meeting when the cameras were discussed, Bina shared some of the reasons she felt they were needed in Tama. Bina said that just recently, the police department had called out to two separate traffic accidents resulting in injury. He also informed the public that the sign on McClellan informed passersby of their speed had been mowed down, which was thought to be intentional.

So far, Bina says the reaction to the installation of the cameras has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The negative feedback has been low,” he said. “Positive feedback has been that neighbors are happy to see that the city is taking actions to slow down speed concerns. We have already seen a drop in speed and complaints in the areas where the cameras are located.”

Some locals have wondered if Toledo would be next to install traffic cameras.

“I don’t see that being a likely possibility,” Toledo Police Chief Dan Quigley said.

Motorists should make sure to drive safely and below the speed limit as the new traffic cameras are now fully functional, and once the 30 day grace period ends, citations and fines will be issued.

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