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Des Moines expands camera use to ticket speeders in school zones

Des Moines Police. - COURTESY PHOTO
Des Moines Police.
— image credit: COURTESY PHOTO

The city of Des Moines has expanded its use of Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) cameras to catch drivers speeding through school zones.

In October 2011, the city installed the cameras in the school zone along the northbound and southbound lanes of 16th Avenue South in front of Woodmont Elementary School.

The city chose Woodmont after speed studies showed an average of 100 to 130 speeding violations during peak pick-up and drop-off times during the day, according to a Des Moines Police media release.

To create a safer school zone for children, the speed cameras only operate on school days when the flashing beacon warning system is operating, which is also part of the safety program before and after school: 7:40-8:20 a.m. and 2:40-3:10 p.m.

Due to an 82 percent reduction in the number of motorists speeding through the Woodmont Elementary school zone, the Des Moines City Council approved in June to continue the Automated Speed Enforcement Program.

The council also approved the expansion of the program along 24th Avenue South in front of Midway Elementary and Pacific Middle School. The city chose this second site after conducting another comprehensive speed study in February, which showed an average of about 100 speed violations per day. This school zone also has a flashing beacon warning system indicating the school zone is active.

Cameras were installed in October in the school zone along the northbound and southbound lanes of 24th Avenue South in front of the schools. The speed cameras will only operate on school days when the flashing beacon warning system is operating before and after school: 7:35-8:15 a.m. and 2:35-3:05 p.m.

During an initial 30-day introductory and public education period, the city will issue warning notices, but no monetary penalty to the registered owner of any vehicle photographed while speeding. Actual enforcement and the issuance of notice of infractions will start on Jan. 2.

The penalty for speeding in a school zone is $210, according to an email from Bob Bohl, Des Moines Police spokesman. The fine goes to $250 if the vehicle is going more than 11 mph over the 20 mph zone.

Revenue generated from the School Zone Safety Program first pays for the equipment/payments to the contractor and covers the city’s cost of running the program (i.e. officer’s time to review the violations and court time to process).

The remaining revenue will go into a dedicated Traffic Safety Fund for projects such as sidewalks along identified school walking routes, crosswalk enhancement projects, street signage, enforcement initiatives, traffic calming equipment such as driver feedback signs, implementation of flashing beacon warning systems in other school zones, and other safety projects aimed at enhancing pedestrian safety—particularly in and around schools in our community.

Des Moines has contracted with American Traffic Solutions Inc. (ATS), which provides road safety programs for nearly 300 communities across North America. More information about ATS is available at www.atsol.com.

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