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National Motorists Association Blog


7 Ways To Shut Down A Speed Trap

Posted on October 30th, 2007 in , , | 1,620 Comments

Speed traps are often used by municipalities as a method of generating revenue to run the government. “Safety” is given as the excuse for running a speed trap, but the real reason boils down to money.

  • The police department wants more money for equipment and salaries.
  • The City wants more money to avoid raising taxes.
  • Local residents and businesses often go along with speed traps because they reduce local taxes, and besides, they’re usually not the drivers who get the tickets anyway.

A “win win” situation for everybody in town, but not for the poor saps that suffer fines, points and insurance surcharges in the name of “safety.” However, any person, if persistent enough, can take meaningful action to eliminate the classic speed trap. There are multiple approaches to bringing public and private wrath down upon the perpetrators of speed traps.

1) Appeal To Local Business Owners

With sufficient prodding local businesses can be effective in lobbying for the end of community speed traps. One way to prompt this kind of lobbying is to convince business owners that the local speed trap is costing them money, or is about to cost them money.

This can be done by sending letters to local businesses and the chamber of commerce stating that you and anyone you can convince accordingly, will not be shopping in that community until the use of speed traps is discontinued.

2) Get The Attention Of The Local Media

Letters should be sent to the local newspapers, radio and TV stations, and to the mayor or any other head of the government that sponsors the speed trap.

The combination of economic sanctions (loss of business) and embarrassment of local officials may generate pressure to eliminate the speed trap, or at least reduce its most abusive characteristics.

3) Purchase Small Advertisements In The Paper

If the media ignores the story, you can still get the word out in other ways. To add a little momentum to your efforts you may want to purchase small ads in surrounding community newspapers that identify the speed trap and demand that things change.

4) Find Other Speed Trap Victims To Join The Cause

Ask around the area and find other speed trap victims. The trap has taken money out of their pockets so it won’t be hard to convince them to join the effort. If you generate some additional interest and help, the media and local officials will start to take you more seriously.

5) Request A Traffic Engineering Study

If a local village or city is using a state or county highway as a speed trap you may be able to provoke the state or county officials sufficiently to have them force the end of the speed trap. For example, if the speed limit is severely under-posted you can request a copy of the traffic engineering study that sanctioned such a low speed limit.

You can use a “public information request” or “freedom of information request” to force the release of this study, if the public agency won’t willingly release it. More often than not, no such study exists.

There are exceptions, but all states require a traffic engineering study to support an unusual or abnormally low speed limit. Even if a traffic engineering study exists, it may not support the speed limit posted by the local unit of government.

6) Talk To Your Elected Officials

All elected officials give lip service to the belief that underhanded and exploitative speed enforcement should not be used as a means to extort money from honest responsible citizens. It’s fair game to ask them to put substance behind their words. You have every right to ask your state legislators to pass a law that will reduce, if not eliminate the abuses common to speed traps.

Here are some approaches you can suggest to your state senator or representative:

  • Require that any posted speed limit that differs from the standard speed limit for a given type of road or highway be supported by a legitimate traffic engineering study that determines the 85th percentile speed of free flowing unimpeded traffic.
  • Establish a limit on the percent of local revenues that any community can generate through traffic fines. Any local unit of government that is generating more than 10% to 20% of its total revenue from fines is abusing traffic enforcement for revenue enhancement purposes.
  • Require that a high percentage (75 %) of all traffic fines and related costs be transferred to an unrelated state fund, e.g. public education, emergency relief, or public library aids.
  • Prohibit the use of electronic speed measurement devices to enforce speed limits that have not been determined through the use of an official traffic engineering study.
  • Require specific and proper training for any person using electronic devices for speed enforcement purposes.
  • Provide that any motorist charged with a traffic violation has the automatic right for a change of venue to a court of record (from a local administrative or municipal court).
  • Prohibit the use of electronic speed measurement devices to clock vehicles within 100 yards of a speed limit sign that reduces the speed limit.

By giving your legislator concrete and realistic suggestions you will have made it difficult for him or her to just ignore your request. Getting a bill drafted and introduced is still a long way from getting it passed into law, but it sure is a good start in the right direction.

7) Challenge Your Speed Trap Ticket In Court

On a very personal and individual level there is yet another way to challenge and oppose speed traps.

If you’re caught in a speed trap, you need to challenge your speeding ticket in court.  Just paying the ticket to avoid the hassle will only perpetuate the system by giving the municipality exactly what it wants and expects: your money.  Challenge your ticket in court with the full knowledge that you may have to appeal your conviction to a higher, more legitimate court. This accomplishes a variety of objectives:

  1. You force the operators of the speed trap to take their time and money to prosecute you.
  2. If you are well prepared, a competent judge may decide to formally chastise the speed trap operators, especially if they have violated an existing state law.
  3. Finally, as a reward for your hard work, there’s a good chance the charges against you will be dismissed.

This article was adapted from information on the NMA’s speed trap registry website, www.speedtrap.org, a listing of speed traps submitted by drivers across the country.


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Leave a Comment

1,620 Responses to “7 Ways To Shut Down A Speed Trap”

  1. j3j3f3f3 says:

    I support legitimate enforcement, but roads should be designed and built to encourage people to drive the speed limit. Too many roads are built like highways, even through residential areas. So naturally people don't want speeders through their neighborhoods, and they lobby to reduce the speed limit. If they'd just build the road to make drivers comfortable with the posted speed limit, we wouldn't have an issue with speed traps.

  2. ron hyatt says:

    …and get ready for housing code violations, tax liens and other retribution.

  3. tom thornburgh says:

    To whom it might concern;

    I was given a speeding ticket in Gauley Bridge WV. The constitution provides for the town to control speed limits. The constitution also says I can pay with Change "legal tender" as described in THE COINAGE ACT OF 1965 section 31 USC 5103. When I tried to pay my ticket within the thirty days the town allows, the personnel at town hall refused my money. I contacted the town prosecutor which is also an assistant county prosecutor about my problem and he said he wasn't going to do anything about the violation of my rights. Since then I've been in touch with numerous State Senators and Delegates, US Senators and Representatives, the Attorney General, and I've also contacted the Governor, and no one seems to want to enforce the US and WV Constitutions. Any departure or violation of the constitution is subversive to good government "WVC Article 1 section 3 " the constitution also states that every person elected or appointed to any office takes a oath to uphold the US and WV Constitutions "WVC Article 4 section 5" The chief executive power shall be vested in the governor, who shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed "WVC Article 7 section 5" Any person elected or appointed to any office who does not uphold the US and WV Constitutions is guilty of neglect of official duty "WVC Article 9 section 4" It might seem trivial, but it's important enough to be part of the constitutions.

    Tom Thornburgh

    1901 Madison Avenue.

    Huntington WV 25704

  4. george36747 says:

    I am not certain where some of you people live, but Traffic Engineering is the authority that dictates the safety and assigns the speed limits for roadways. The local municipalities can NOT alter or change the speed limit requirements on roads without approval from the DOT. As well, in Florida, the LEO that issues the citation must appear in traffic court, if a trial is requested, because the officer is under subpoena to appear. As for "You force the operators of the speed trap to take their time and money to prosecute you" is hog wash. The officers generally get paid Overtime (time and a half) to attend traffic court when it is not on their regular on-duty time. As a retired motor officer, I relished attending traffic court during my off duty time at approx $52.00 per hour. It was great Off Duty money. I have attended 1000's of traffic court appearances and have NEVER had a "competent judge" chastise the "speed trap operators". Well prepared or not, with an attorney to assist or not, if your guilty of committing the offense of exceeding the posted speed limit, especially if you have been clocked by a Laser, you will NOT get off scott free. Finally, "as a reward for your hard work, there’s a good chance the charges against you will be dismissed". That is pure poppy cock. There is NOT a GOOD chance of having the charges dismissed. The odds are that you will be found guilty !

  5. jeff1456 says:

    Today I read in a local newspaper that this site reported a section of I-12 in Baton Rouge as a speed trap. This length of interstate, approximately 3 miles long, is posted at 60 MPH. Intense enforcement occurs here and people do get tickets. Is it a trap? Hardly. The are mulitple signs warning that the speed limit is being reduced long before motorist get to it.

    Why is this section reduced from 70 to 60 MPH? Because in a 3 month period in 2007 this section of roadway was the location of 10 fatalities and multiple injuries. The three lanes east bound reduce to two lanes, resulting in traffic backups daily. The problem is that trafffic (that 85% you talk about) is moving along at 70 mph and is suddenly faced with vehicles that are dead stopped. Nearly all of the fatalities were directly attributable to the speed of the vehicles prior to the crash.

    Once the speed limit was reduced and enforcement increased that stretch of roadway has yeilded less that two fatalities per year, as opposed to the 10 in three months. By the way, 2007 numbers ended at 21 fatalities before the speed reduction..

    • Drew says:

      If all that you say in your anecdotal report is true, then the government should have no trouble following the LAW which requires them to conduct an engineering survey before lowering the limit.

  6. ccc2703 says:

    Always show up for court on a speeding ticket in SC. The law states that if you show up and the officer that issued the ticket does not show up then the judge is required to dismiss the ticket. 80% of the time the officer does not show up for court. also SC law states that an officer must be visible for 1000 feet in both directions, if he is hiding in the woods etc get a pic and take him to court for unlawful citation. My dad was highway patrol, these are only a few of the ways to beat a speeding ticket.

  7. danoschevitz says:

    There is no such thing as a Speed Trap. If you get caught speeding because an Officer is doing his or her job is not their fault. Keep speeding and hopefully you won't kill anybody.

  8. danoschevitz says:

    There is no such thing as a Speed Trap. If you get caught speeding because an Officer is doing his or her job is not their fault. Keep speeding and hopefully you won't kill anybody.

    • yirmin says:

      And if the law said you could own slaves would that make it right? Didn't think so… speed traps are just random taxes on motorists. Cars do not spontaneously fly off the road when you go past a specific speed, nor do trees jump into the road of fast moving cars. The real danger on the road is the driver that is too slow requiring others to pass him.

  9. theunknownknows says:

    I wanted to make an account and add all sorts of crazy warnings and traffic hot spots. "Last time they stopped me, I got let of with a beating, and considered myself lucky".
    I found this on a law enforcement chat site. The topic of the site was Speedtrap.org. I have, in my personal experiences, found LEO's to be at least as petty, spiteful, small-minded, and elitist as any other group. Actually, I find them to excel in these areas. So be warned that many of the speedtraps listed may be fake. btw I live in S. Florida, where, a few years back, a cop ran over and killed a tourist-who was lying on the beach.

  10. Scottie says:

    Speed limits are for safety.

    There has been studies done where ten percent less speeding tickets were given over a set period of time. During that same time fatal accident increased about ten percent

    Other studies where if an individual received a speeding ticket they are about 700 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal accident within the next five years following the speeding ticket.

  11. JOHN REEPE says:

    HOW CAN LAW GIVE OUT TICKETS IF NO ONE IS SETUP TO CALIBRATE THEM?

  12. D Jones says:

    There are police in brighton that have had contests to see who could give out the most tickets. Are they really concerned with safety or winning the contest?They don’t live in the town so they don’t care.

  13. Russ Miller says:

    All this crying…."Wahhh I got caught speeding, now I gotta pay a fine!" and my other favorite.."It's the government – they're out to get you and your money!" look people, the signs are posted, you have a spedometer, how difficult is it to obey a law? Why do people have such adversity to obeying a law? If you run a stop sign and got a ticket, would you say "johnny law is out to get me?" Can you walk out of the wal-mart without paying and then bitch when you get arrested for shoplifting? The cops are doing the job that we PAY them to do, enforce the laws. If you don't like to obey the laws, go move to a country with out any.

  14. […] Sometimes, the science is not enough to hold back the will to make the change.  A speed limit is reduced and now you have a speed trap.  And now a whole new group of people are upset. […]

  15. James B says:

    Well, once again someone took it upon themselves to call Gaffney a “speed trap” in our local newspapers. I searched all over Gaffney and could not find one speed limit sign that springs up out of the ground when a vehicle approaches. In fact I found a city full of very obvious, well posted speed limit signs, and “Reduced Speed Ahead” signs. Some of which have been there for many many years. So, if officers allow 10 or more miles an hour over the posted speed limit (which they DO NOT have to do) before they even stop a vehicle, it sounds like to me that if drivers go over that, they have “trapped themselves”. Yes, we as police officers actively enforce traffic laws, and the city’s accident rate continues to decline as a result. The solution to this dilemma is VERY simple. Pay attention to the posted speed limit signs that are erected throughout the city. Or, read the signs that are located at each and every city limit sign within Gaffney that plainly states…”City wide speed limit 30 mph, unless otherwise posted”. I promise, that if a driver complies with these simple requests, they will remain free of anything that they are calling a “speed trap”. Many many residents throughout the city and county have lived and traveled in the city for 80+ years, and have never been issued any type of citation, so using the term “speed trap” is VERY laughable. After reading the articles, I quickly realized that someone didn’t do any research before submitting their comments. Myself, and the other fine men and women serving with the Gaffney Police Department care for all citizens very very much, as we demonstrate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So, as you can probably imagine, I was hurt by the articles. Even though I don’t make people speed. I have seen such speeds as 50 mph or more in a 25 mph zone, and there were people walking in those areas. The human brains takes 1.6 seconds to create a response from the time it perceives a threat. So, if a person is traveling 50 mph, and sees a threat, it will take them up too 625 ft to stop from the time their brain tells them to. This distance will be much greater for vehicles that are not equipped with ABS. So you see, research does wonders. Imagine if your child were to run out in the roadway, within a 25 mph zone, and a vehicle was traveling 50 mph towards them. This is just one of a MILLION examples why we have speed limits, and officers to enforce them. I have dedicated my entire adult life to helping others, so if I do issue a citation, it is only because I care for their safety and the safety of others. I was really shocked that someone would write such senseless and cruel words about us as Police Officers. If they could only know what is in our hearts, then they may possibly understand. I have always, and will always, be willing to give my LIFE for another in need. That is how much I care. As long as the good lord will give me breath, I will ALWAYS be there to SERVE and PROTECT, even if it means that I have to issue a speeding ticket.

  16. chris b says:

    best way to stop a speed trap… how bout no one speed? leave earlier, plan for traffic or accidents.. are you so busy that you cannot leave 3 minutes early? if no one sped, then the cops will not have to pull people over in the same area all day long.. and if you get a speeding ticket.. it means YOU WERE SPEEDING.. even a 5 year old knows that.. c’mon man, you did wrong, you got caught, how is there an excuse to say, “well it was a speed trap I wouldn’t be in court for speeding if an officer wasn’t there” well you might have been caught somewhere else, or ended up in a horrible accident and having to pay personal injury to someone.. maybe someone sped and hit your family and your kids were injujred and they did not have enough insurance to cover.. would you still want to take out speed traps?

    • Mike says:

      The President needs you on his healthcare reform team. With your impeccable logic, you can help them achieve what all the famous minds and talent have failed to do. How to lower health costs? Just don’t get sick. How simple can it be? If you don’t get sick,then insurance companies won’t have any reason to raise your rates. Hospitals and doctors won’t be able to take your money. Problem solved.

      There are millions of miles of roads. Not all of them have speed traps. There are two kinds of speed traps. Those where the cops sit and wait for out of state license plates, even at or below the speed limit, because they KNOW you won’t waste time coming back to fight the ticket. And those were the speed limits are kept artificially low to use people’s frustrations to generate revenue.

      But you go right ahead and continue to promote your own logic. How to reduce the federal deficit? Easy, just stop spending money. How to stop unsafe working conditions? Easy, just don’t work for those companies anymore. Who need OSHA? Gee, life is so simple, especially for the simple-minded with all the quick answers.

  17. sca says:

    The same officers turn on their lights to get out into traffic, then turn them off and go on slowly down the road..not on a call. OR on the highway they come by you with no lights on and just driving fast because they are in a patrol car and thinks that gives them the right to speed. 9 out of 10 of the very ones who give tickets breaks the laws that they are sworn to enforce and do enforce ON OTHERS but do not obey their self!

  18. […] used by municipalities as a method of generating revenue,” says NMA in a companion piece, “7 Ways To Shut Down A Speed Trap.” Tags: speed+traps, […]

  19. Mike says:

    Yeah, right, Speed Kills, uh-huh, tell us ANOTHER one…

    Very simple, in the 1980’s, the national speed limit was 55 mph. Tickets were issued for doing 60, 65, 70 mph because “Speed Kills”. So why is the speed limit higher all across the nation, with 65, 70, 75, and even 80 NOW being a SAFE speed?

    In churches and temples, people chant the mantra of their gods, with reverence and unquestioning faith and loyalty. Same with those who chant “Speed Kills”. It requires no proof, only faith. And like the Inquisition or Jihad, the unbelievers will PAY for their blasphemy if the fundamentalists are left in charge.

    Thou Shalt Not SPEED!

    • chris b says:

      the reason that the speed limit was deemed safe to increase is due to the fact that supposedly someone gave the government reason to believe that the lighter, fiberglass cars of today seemingly are safer than the tanks of the eighties.. also the 55 was impart due to fuel savings after the 70’s fuel shortage.. they figured slow down the cars, slow down the fuel consumption.. I would agree that todays cars handle better than some of the eighties cars.. but there is no way a fiberglass car will protect better at 65 70 than a steel car, but i agree that people speeding can lose control easier or simply slam into a car that they could not avoid due to their speed. the issue now is that all the traffic is moving 65 70 which is what people wanted with the speed limit increase, but there are still people who think , well 60 was fine when it was 55 so now that i can legally go 60 i can go 65 and it just escalates from there.. to the point where now we have people doing 55 in a 30, which is absolutely inexcusable.

  20. Ray says:

    Speed traps force people to commit crimes that wouldn’t gotten committed if the victems weren’t tricked into doing the wrong by law enforcers. Check out this one report at this Web address: http://www.mediafire.com/?gzmynj2llzt you won’t believe it this scam by law enforcers.

    • chris b says:

      the speed trap doesn’t FORCE you to speed.. it simply gives you an opportunity to speed, which any road, with or without a cop does.. they do not say you have to speed to get through here, they simply set a cop in an area known for speeding.. it’s like a drug raid, they send cops to a known drug house… they didn;t force the guys to make/take drugs.. the people had an opportunity, just like everyone, and chose to make/take drugs and the officers go in and arrest them… you have a chance to not get caught in a speed trap by NOT SPEEDING.

    • stupid is as stupid says:

      Seriously? Are you really going to stand by this post? The "speed traps" force you to speed through them….?????

      Geez…..youve been drinking way too much of what Mike has….

      NO ONE is forced to speed. Each individual driver makes THEIR OWN CHOICE as to whether they want to exceed the speed limit.

      :shakeshead: You guys really define stupid is as stupid does.




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