By Larry Carley
The safety Nazis certainly won't agree with this statement, but in my opinion SPEEDING IS NOT A CRIME!
Please Note: I am talking ONLY about speeding on highways and interstates, not in congested urban areas, on residential streets or in school zones. Idiots who drive too fast for traffic, weather or visibility conditions, weave in and out of traffic, don't signal when changing lanes or turning, cut off other drivers, blow through red lights and stop signs, pass on a yellow lines, and generally drive as if they were competing in a NASCAR race ought to be ticketed.
They say that "Speed Kills!" No, speed does NOT kill. Drunk drivers kill. Idiots kill. Road Rage kills. Bad weather kills. Stupid driving blunders kill. Tire blowouts and rollovers kill. Exhausted truck drivers kill. People falling asleep at the wheel kill. But driving 10, 15 or even 20 mph over the posted speed limit does NOT kill anybody. It never has. It never will.
I think I should have the right to determine how fast I can drive my car on the open highway depending on weather, visibility and traffic conditions, and the capabilities of my vehicle. I don't need some bureaucrat telling me how fast or slow I should drive. In the meantime, I'll keep my radar detector on to reduce my risk of getting a speeding ticket in a speed trap.
Speeding tickets are all about MONEY, not public safety.
Speeding tickets are written to generate revenue for the municipalities and jurisdictions that issue them. The income generated by speeding tickets helps support the police department, the judiciary, and yes, even the insurance companies who are more than anxious to jack up your rates when you are issued more than one or two tickets a year. It's all about the money, and nothing else.
Speeding tickets are a win-win game for government, and a lose-lose-lose game for the motoring public. Government wins by taking your money, and it wins by claiming it is protecting public safety. Motorists lose by giving up their hard-earned money, losing time to appear in court (whether they contest a speeding ticket or simply pay the fine, plus court costs, of course). And they lose again when their safety-conscious insurance company jacks up their car insurance premiums for their "reckless" behavior.
If you get pulled a citation for something that you know you don't deserve... do us all a favor and don't let the government walk all over you. Hire a good criminal lawyer and get the charge dismissed. If more people defend themselves in court, the number of pointless citations that are handed out will surely decrease.
To make matters worse, local governments are now increasing their take even faster thanks to the growing use of photo radar cameras. These ever-watchful Big Brother spy systems can nail speeders faster than even the best trooper. Better yet, the local governments who have embraced this technology don't have to pay any cops to be their highway tax collectors, and they don't have to pay for any squad cars or gasoline to keep them running. They simply invest in a photo radar camera system, then sit back and watch the speeding revenues come rolling in. They know it is guaranteed income because they know people speed.
Ever wonder why people speed? The reason is because the posted speed limits on most interstate highways and secondary highways in this country are TOO SLOW. The "normal" pace of traffic on most roads typically averages at least 10 mph faster than the posted speed limit, and in many areas it is 15 to 20 mph faster.
The interstate highway system was started back in the 1950s thanks to President Eisenhower. During World War Two, Eisenhower saw the German Autobahn highway system and was impressed with what the Germans had built. He said American needed the same kind of system for "National defense," and persuaded Congress to fund a national interstate highway system.
The important point here is that the interstate highway system was modeled on a highways system the Germans originally developed back in the 1930s, and to this day still has no speed limit in some areas (80 mph is "suggested" in most areas). The American interstate highway system that was built in the 1950s was designed for "normal" driving speeds of 75 mph.
But thanks to the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s, and Jimmy Carter's noble but idiotic decision to create a 55 mph national speed limit to reduce fuel consumption, posted speed limits have never been the same. Over the years, most states have slowly upped the speed limit to 65 mph or even 70 mph, and a few to 75 mph. Texas is the best with a few stretches of interstate posted at 80 mph. But why haven't all the states gone back to 75 mph? Because state and local government keep citing "reports" the "statistics" published by safety Nazis that perpetuate the myth that speed kills. Besides, they know that raising the speed limit would NOT be in their own self-interest. They'd lose too much revenue from issuing fewer speeding tickets.
In my opinion, it makes no sense to keep speed limits artificially low. Today's cars handle and brake far better than the cars of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. And today's cars keep getting better and safer with each new model year. Anti-lock brakes are standard on most cars, and within a few years even stability control will be standard equipment. Many cars have more air bags than you can keep track of, and new technologies such as collision avoidance and automatic braking will make traveling even safer, regardless of speed.
Okay, I've had my rant. Nothing is going to change. Photo radar cameras will continue to pop up everywhere. Government is never satisfied with the revenue it takes from its citizens, and will always want more. Photo radar cameras and speeding tickets by mail are just the latest scheme to pick our pockets.
Anyone who lobbies for higher speed limits is usually portrayed as being opposed to public safety, an anarchist or a nut case. Our current governor in Illinois ran on the campaign promise that he was going to abolish the evil, self-serving, greedy Illinois tollway authority. But after he was elected, he promptly forgot his pledge and did the exact opposite. He promoted a new "open highway" tolling system that could pick motorist's pockets even faster thanks to electronic transponders placed in vehicles. The new system also eliminated many of the tollway collector's jobs since the same task could now be accomplished much more efficiency with transponders.
Mark my words, the day is coming when this same technology will be ramped up to automatically monitor your vehicle speed and automatically fine you when you exceed the posted speed limit. The same technology could also prevent a vehicle from exceeding a posted speed limit by interacting with the engine computer, but I doubt they would go for that idea since it wouldn't make them any money.
Our founding fathers would probably turn over in their graves to see that their government of the people, by the people and for the people has become government of the money, by the money and for the money.
And no, I did not write this little rant because I got a photo radar speed ticket or even a hand-written speeding ticket. I wrote it because I see photo radar, red light cameras, tollway transponders and artificially low speed limits as infringements on our freedoms. Opps, I forgot. Driving is a privilege, not a right. At least that's what the government keeps tell us. Who told them?
80 mph: Texas (on about 500 miles of Interstate 10 and 20 in southwest corner of the state)
75 mph: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana (the speed limit on rural roads is also 75 mph in Montana), Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas (in counties with less than 10 people per square mile), Utah, Wyoming,
70 mph: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington State, West Virginia.
65 mph: All the remaining 19 states.Update October 2012:
Texas has raised the legal speed limit to 85 mph on the Pickle Parkway that runs from Austin to San Antonio. The higher speed limit reduces the travel time by about 6 minutes. Unfortunately, it is a toll road that will cost you 15 cents per mile or $10 for the short cut.
Speeders driving through Illinois now may be more likely to serve jail time if they are caught. Court supervision for a speeding violation of 40 mph or more over the limit became a thing of the past on Jan. 1, while speeding 30 mph over the limit is no longer a petty offense only punishable by a fine.
A ticket for traveling 30 mph over the speed limit now ranks as a Class B misdemeanor, which has a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine. For those charged with speeding 40 mph or more (already a Class A misdemeanor) supervision is not an option.
Supervision allows for dismissal of the charge without a conviction, as long as the violator complies with the terms and conditions of the sentence. The record of supervision remains until it is expunged.
Class A misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500! As a result, the minimum sentence if convicted would be a conditional discharge or probation.
State Farm Agent Bob Sorensen in Wheaton said the law likely will have more of an effect on insurance carriers that carry higher-risk drivers. "We tend to want to insure the better-than-average driver," Sorensen said. "Anything we can do to slow people down, there's certainly some merit to that."
My Editorial Comment: Illinois is broke and needs the money. Your money! That's the bottom line! The state legislature just passed a whopping 66 percent increase in personal income taxes to bail out their bloated bureaucracy and over-spending.
As for comments by the State Farm agent, sounds like just another excuse to jack up our insurance rates for speeding tickets. Personally, I think it is a crime to steal money out of people's pockets in the name of safety.
Update: October 2012
The City of Chicago says it plans to collect $30 million in fines from unwary motorists caught by their new speed cameras. Up to 300 cameras ae being installed near schools and parks in the name of safety. Motorists will be fined $35 if they are going 6 to 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, and $100 if they are traveling 11 mph or faster over the limit. The revenue generating cameras will help the city balance its budget woes, says da Mayor.
They're lying (as usual). Even their own studies suggest these new speed cameras have the potential to easily generate HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of DOLLARS in badly needed revenue to support the bloated budget of the City of Chicago.
According to one traffic study, about 25% of vehicles typically exceed the posted speed limit. The same study also said that a single speed camera placed on a high traffic volume street can generate up to 48 violations per hour. Based on these projections, each camera has the potential to generate over 700 speeding tickets a day, or 21,000 tickets a month which could generate over$1 MILLION IN FINES PER MONTH! Multiply that by 300 cameras placed throughout the city and you can see why the politicians are so anxious to protect public safety with speed cameras. The cameras are a gold mine of new income. By comparison, red light cameras (RLC) are peanuts, generating a mere $61 million in fines for the City of Chicago in 2011.
Update August 2015
Traffic fatalities are up about 14 percent in 2015, and may surpass 40,000 by year's end (that's almost 110 fatalities a day!). The death toll is rising but not because motorists are speeding. Lower fuel prices have encouraged more driving (miles driven are up about 3 Percent), but the main problem appears to be DISTRACTED DRIVING. Although numerous states have passed laws restricting the use of cell phones and texting while driving, too many motorists are so addicted to their cell phones that they can't put the damn things down while driving.
Distracted driving due to cell phone use now accounts for nearly 25 percent of all accidents and fatalities. Drunk driving, however, remains the leading cause of accidents and deaths (one out of every three!).