Located in north-central Iowa about 20 miles south of the Minnesota state line, Cerro Gordo County is a popular summer vacation spot known for destinations like Clear Lake, Mason City, Clear Lake State Park, McIntosh Woods State Park, and the Surf Ballroom. Visitors come to the area to relax, but the extra traffic can result in conflicts between motor vehicles and people who are walking or biking.
Unticketing Cerro Gordo is a contest intended to encourage safe driving in Clear Lake, Mason City, and greater Cerro Gordo County. Drivers join the contest by providing their license plate number, vehicle description, and contact information. During ordinary traffic patrols, police officers and sheriff deputies are recording the license plate numbers of vehicles observed driving safely and legally. When an observed plate number matches one that is entered in the contest, the vehicle is entered in a random drawing to win prizes such as store gift cards.
The contest began May 27, 2023 and ended August 14, 2023, with drawings every two weeks. Drivers could join at any time, but the earlier they enter the more chances they had to win.
Who is involved?
Unticketing is a collaboration between three law enforcement agencies:
Who is providing prizes?
No public funds have been used to purchase prizes. Instead, all Unticketing prizes have been graciously donated by the following Cerro Gordo County businesses:
- AAA Iowa (motor club, roadside assistance, and insurance) - Roadside troubleshooting kits
- Advance Auto Parts (auto parts store) - Car washing supplies
- Cabin Coffee (coffee shop) - Store gift cards
- Casey's (convenience stores, pizza, and fuel) - Store gift card
- Kwik Star (fuel and convenience stores) - Store gift cards
- Three on the Tree (coffee and bakery) - Store gift cards
What is the research aspect of the project?
Most approaches for preventing speeding and unsafe driving rely on penalties such as traffic tickets. With Unticketing, we are trying something more fun: giving prizes to people who drive safely and legally. To find out whether this helps reduce speeding and anti-social driving, we will monitor traffic speeds and watch for other effects on driving behavior.
Two groups are involved in the research component of the project:
- Iowa Highway Research Board (research funding)
- Iowa State University - Institute for Transportation (project administration and effectiveness monitoring)