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Iowa drivers say traffic cam wrongly nabs big rigs

Apparently what happens is the radar beam from the traffic camera bounced off a big vehicle, hit nearby parked vehicles and returned to the camera system, which then recorded a higher speed than the rate the big vehicle was actually traveling.

The Associated Press

12/28/2011

FORT DODGE, Iowa — Fort Dodge has parked its mobile traffic camera after some drivers of buses and other big vehicles complained to the city that they were not speeding when the camera snapped photos of their vehicles.

The drivers told the City Council this past week that it would be impossible to get the big rigs moving as quickly as evidence from the cameras suggests, The Messenger reported.

"I have to believe that there's something seriously wrong with this traffic cam," said Dave Wooster, who drives a large truck as a plumber for the school district.

"I don't think they can hold us accountable for these tickets," he told the council Monday.

Wooster said the questionable tickets were issued when the traffic camera car was parked in the same area for several days in November. He said the school district received three tickets after his truck was clocked going about 50 mph in a 25 mph zone. Wooster said the truck can't hit that speed in the block he traveled before passing the camera.

Lundy Pender, a driver for the city's transit system, said her bus was ticketed twice in one day. She also said the bus can't get moving that fast in such a short distance.

Councilman Robert Patterson said he has read about similar problems elsewhere. He said apparently what happens is the radar beam from the traffic camera bounced off a big vehicle, hit nearby parked vehicles and returned to the camera system, which then recorded a higher speed than the rate the big vehicle was actually traveling.

The car that houses the mobile camera won't be used until questions about the tickets involving big vehicles are investigated.

"We don't want it on the street if it's not working properly," Police Chief Tim Carmody said.

Kevin Jones of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at kevinj@thetrucker.com.

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