Serve and Protect or Serve and Collect?
Are Speed Traps and Video Traffic Enforcement Really For Driver Safety?
Speed traps have been around for a long time, take any place where you have a reduction in speed limit, add a concealed police officer with a radar gun, and you have a recipe for a real money maker to fill up the city’s coffers.
With the advent of new technologies cities are now using video enforcement for both speeding tickets and other traffic violations such as running red lights. Proponents of such technologies claim that it’s about public safety and a reduction of traffic accidents however when you take a look at the numbers you can clearly see that this issue, like most issues, comes down to money!
Many law makers believe that these speed traps and other forms of automated traffic enforcement are purely to generate revenue for cities. A study done by the NHTSA showed that some cities make more than 70% of their yearly income from speed traps. One angry Florida man was quoted as saying “While criminals flood the streets with crack and other drugs our police officers sit outside the city limits on lawn chairs with radar guns handing out speeding tickets!” A recent test of a new automated ticketing system in Louisiana was done on a busy interstate. The results, 86 tickets were given in 41 minutes, about two tickets per minute. That is equivalent to $12,000 per hour and nearly $5million a year.
Legislators in many states are fighting back against these speed traps writing laws requiring cities to post flashing speed trap warnings. Citizens are also fighting back creating websites that warn people of speed traps and risking their own safety to warn people with homemade signs about hidden speed traps. Despite efforts to stop these often times unlawful speed traps, cities around the country will continue to use them to rake in enormous amounts of revenue essentially turning our police officers who are sworn to protect us in to collections officers sworn to take our money!