For the Record, I Don’t Support Traffic Cameras

Earlier today, the Des Moines Register sent out a tweet that said the following:

Mr. Krause is apparently exploring a run for governor. On his Facebook page, he says he believes traffic cams save lives.

In my haste, I mis-read the Register’s tweet. I thought the Register said that Mr. Krause would “ban red-light cameras.” My first thought was “right on, brother!” So I re-tweeted the following:

It wasn’t until Mr. Krause re-tweeted my tweet, started following me and, “favorited” my tweet that I went back and re-read the original Register tweet. It was then that I saw I had missed the “veto” part, as in, Mr. Krause would veto any attempt to ban red-light cameras.

Oops. My tweet should have said “boo” instead of “yay.”

Mr. Krause seems like a nice man, and he may make a fine governor. But I disagree with him on traffic-cams.

He believes they save lives. I believe they exist as a means for the government to extort money from the populace.

The City of Clive, for example, brought in $632,000 in calendar year 2012 from traffic cams. That’s $632,000 of money being transferred from citizens to the government in the form of a de facto tax. (To their credit, the Clive City Council recently voted to discontinue the traffic cams, as is detailed in the link in this paragraph.)


We’re told it’s about safety, of course. Like the City of Des Moines saying that traffic cams reduced accidents by “33%.” This was technically true, in the case of Des Moines, but highly misleading because the “reduction” was a reduction from 6 accidents to 4 accidents — such a small sample size that there’s no way to draw correlations.

But it’s easy to draw a correlation between traffic cams and revenue. Local governments have found a way to turn people upside-down and shake out whatever loose change is left in their pockets.

As I asked the last time I ranted about traffic cams: what if traffic cams really did reduce accidents and make the roads safer? Revenue from the cameras would decrease.

Would our elected officials who want traffic cams be happy about that? I think not.

They’d just scrap the traffic cams and find some other way to soak more money out of people.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /