Des Moines Expanding School Zone Safety Program with New Speed Cameras

The City of Des Moines on Thursday (Nov. 1) announced the expansion of its School Zone Safety Program, which aims to protect students, drivers, and passengers from injuries or collisions caused by speeding vehicles in school zones.

The program has expanded to an additional school site located on 24th Avenue South in front of Midway Elementary and Pacific Middle School (map below), where Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) cameras were installed in the school zone in October, along the northbound and southbound lanes.

The speed cameras are set to operate on school days when the flashing beacon warning system is operating before and after school:

  • 7:35 – 8:15 a.m.
  • 2:35 – 3:05 p.m. (early dismissal Fridays 1:05 p.m. – 1:35 p.m.)
  • 8:35 – 9:15 a.m.
  • 3:35 – 4:05 p.m. (early dismissal Fridays 2:05 p.m. – 2:35 p.m.).

With this new site there will again be an initial 30-day introductory and public education period where warning notices, but no monetary penalty will be issued to the registered owner of any vehicle photographed while speeding. Actual enforcement and the issuance of Notice of Infractions will commence on January 2, 2013.

In October 2011, the City of Des Moines installed Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) cameras in the school zone along the northbound and southbound lanes of 16th Ave South in front of Woodmont Elementary School (read our previous coverage here). The city chose this location after conducting comprehensive speed studies in September 2010 and April 2011. The results of the speed studies showed an average of 100 to 130 speeding violations during peak pick-up and drop-off times during the day. 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. This School Safety Program had an initial introductory and public education period where warning notices were issued with no monetary penalty to the registered owner of any vehicle photographed while speeding. Actual enforcement and the issuance of Notice of Infractions commenced on December 1, 2011.

In June 2012, due to an 82% reduction in the number of motorist speeding through the Woodmont Elementary school zone, the Des Moines City Council approved to continue the Automated Speed Enforcement Program. The City Council also approved the expansion of the program to include an additional school site located on 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 2012, 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.

“Our introductory and public education period provides drivers the opportunity to check their speed and comply with our school zone safety program before actual Notice of Infractions will begin to be issued,” reads an announcement. “The intent of this program is to alert drivers to the school zones, reduce speeds, and increase safety for students.”

The announcement continues:

The City of Des Moines can attest to the analysis released by the traffic safety camera company, American Traffic Solutions. This analysis overwhelmingly concludes the use of automated road safety cameras to identify speeding vehicles in school zones have dramatically reduced the number of violations during hours when children are present.

Des Moines is utilizing advanced technology with the goal of improving driving behaviors within our school zones. Speed compliance cameras in school zones are utilized to make a safe environment for pedestrians and motorists. Drivers are urged to obey all traffic control signs, slow down and always expect the unexpected. This road safety camera program enhances enforcement abilities while freeing up other police resources to focus on the mission of promoting traffic safety.

Revenue generated from this 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.

The City of 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

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2 Responses to “Des Moines Expanding School Zone Safety Program with New Speed Cameras”
  1. Todd says:

    Red Light Cameras DO NOT MAKE IT SAFE a Speed Bump will. A child ran over by a speeding car is not going to be saved by a Red Light Camera. No camera is going to slow down a speeder a SPPED BUMP will and the City Des Moines is only interested in revenue generated by these cameras and is under the illusion that it takes some high tech gadget to slow people down. Install a speed bump that tears off the bottom of a speeding car and I guarantee you people will slow down instantly. This is what will save lives. Shame on you city of Des Moines; tell me how you will explain when one of our children is hit by a speeding car that your camera was there to make the speeder slow down, but just did not work and you’re going to issue a speeding ticket after that fact. A sped bump is simple and effective on the spot. Statistics are derived to making people believe these Red Light Cameras are most effective way of enforcing speed limits. That may be ok on some none school roads. However when the City so very concerned in CHILD SAFTY this is false when a simple SPEED BUMP is much more effective. City Des Moines do not tell me your doing safety. Because Safety is something that changes behavior on the spot not after that fact. My thoughts and prayers are for the families that think a camera is going keep their child safe. City Des Moines install speed bumps in front all elementary schools. No out of Towner is going know about these cameras and is not going slow down. A speed bump will get an immediate response of TRUE SAFTY and slow the car down. Shame on you City Des Moines for being sold a gadget rather than truly wanting SAFTY.

  2. Todd says:

    Hello City of Des Moines
    You installed Speed Bumps at the Marina, thus you know how to use these to slow people down.
    So when high sped car is not stop by a RED Light Camera and runs over one of our children it will be on City Des Moines to explain just how speed bumps at Marina that slows people down instantly and effectively are used but when it comes to protecting our school children the City Des Moines will have a photo of the accident that they can present to the dead Childs parents and say people walking at Marina are the ones we truly want to protect and school zones are just about RED LIGHT REVENUE. Do not give me argument that Marina is parking lot and school zones are streets, because speed bumps are installed on streets such as at alki. It continues to be a shame on City of Des Moines protecting people at marina but trying to generate revenue at the expense of our children lives. May God take mercy on all of City as God weeps for our fist child lost to this negligent behavior. Install a Speed Bump and take pictures if you must. Protect the children!

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