Fort Dodge Assistant Police Chief Kevin Doty was in a residential neighborhood recently, getting the city's mobile speed enforcement unit ready to be moved elsewhere, when someone came out of a house and thanked him for placing that traffic camera system on their street.
On other occasions, people have told him they drive slower because they don't want to get a ticket generated by device.
Doty told the City Council Monday that those comments are evidence that the camera system is having the desired effect.
''One of the big things we wanted to do was help make our streets safer for everyone'' he said. ''I think automatic enforcement is helping to do that.''
''People are slowing down in the community because that mobile unit is out there,'' he added.
Doty and Police Chief Tim Carmody briefed the council on the city's experience with the traffic camera system.
The system, packaged in a white Ford Escape, includes a radar unit to measure the speed of passing vehicles and a camera to snap a photo of the license plates of vehicles that are found to be exceeding the speed limit. The owners of the photographed vehicles get a ticket in the mail. Those tickets will cost the vehicle owner $75 to $300, depending on how fast the vehicle was going.
The mobile speed camera system was introduced in September 2011. Until mid-November, only warnings were issued to those caught speeding.
The system was sidelined in December 2011 after some drivers, including school bus drivers and operators of maintenance trucks for the Fort Dodge Community School District, complained that it was clocking their vehicles speeding at rates they said were impossible for such big machines. All of those instances occurred on Sixth Avenue North. A subsequent investigation showed an anomaly there that was leading to incorrect speed measurements.
After officials were confident that problem was solved, the mobile speed unit was put back on the street.
Since February, the city has collected $22,744.36 as a result of tickets generated by the traffic camera unit. The company that provided the system, Red Speed, of Lombard, Ill., has collected an additional $15,335.64 as result of those tickets.
Doty said the Police Department is now studying the possibility of using cameras to record drivers violating red lights. He said there are no red light cameras in place now. Cameras currently mounted on traffic signals are used to help control the lights.