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 by itself does NOT kill. What is does do is increase the time it takes to stop a vehicle when the brakes are applied. It also increases the kinetic force of an impact if the driver fails to brake in time.
Here's what actually kills people: Drunk drivers, distracted drivers, sleepy drivers, exhausted truck drivers, impaired drivers, idiot drivers, stupid drivers, overly aggressive drivers, inexperienced teen drivers, angry drivers, bad weather and poor visibility conditions (icy roads, fog, heavy rains, snow and sleet), tire blowouts and rollovers, brake failures and high speed police chases. These are the factors that actually kill people, not driving 10, 15 or even 20 mph over the posted speed limit.
When self-driving cars finally become a reality, many of the "driver error" factors that contribute to fatal crashes will be eliminated or reduced. But until then, we have to contend with all of these factors every time we travel on public roadways.
I think motorists should have the right to determine how fast they drive their vehicles on the open highway depending on weather, visibility and traffic conditions, and the capabilities of their vehicle. We don't need some bureaucrat telling us how fast or slow we can legally drive. But regulators love regulations, and the income that violations generate, so until we have self-driving cars 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.
FACT: Over 40 million speeding tickets are issued in the U.S. every year (almost 1 a second!). The cost of each speeding ticket issued to motorists varies by state and how fast the motorist was going, but typically the average fine is around $150! Speeding tickets issued in work zones are usually DOUBLE the normal amount or even higher!
According to government statistics, the states that issue the most speed tickets are (in order) Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, California, Texas, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Connecticut. You had better have your radar detector on when driving in these states, or obey the speed limits.
Another interesting fact: Speeding tickets more than pay the salaries of law enforcement officers. The average cop who writes speed tickets generates $250,000 to $300,000 per year in revenue for their jurisdiction! Although many deny it, most do have ticket quotas they have to meet each month to keep the cash flowing into government coffers.
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 roll 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. And these limits were set for cars with 1950s and 1960s technology: drum brakes, bias ply tires, no anti-lock brakes, no traction controls, many had no seat belts and certainly no air bags,
Thanks to the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s, and president 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 since 2008 stability control has been standard equipment. Many cars have smart cruise control systems that automatically change speed as needed to keep pace in congested traffic, and more and more new vehicles are being equipped with automatic braking systems that apply the brakes if the driver fails to react in time to an obstacle in the road, a pedestrian or another vehicle that suddenly brakes or stops.
Okay, I've had my rant. Nothing is going to change as far as cops writing speed tickets or governments using speed cameras to generate revenue. Anyone who lobbies for higher speed limits is usually portrayed as being opposed to public safety, an anarchist or a nut case.
Mark my words, the day is coming when surveillance technology will be ramped up to automatically monitor your vehicle speed and automatically fine you anytime you exceed the posted speed limit. And when self-driving cars become the norm, technology will probably be used to prevent a vehicle from exceeding the posted speed limit especially in urban areas. That will put a HUGE dent in the speeding ticket revenue stream, so municipal governments will have to come up with others means of picking our pockets.
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, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington State, West Virginia.
65 mph: Alaska and Northeastern states (CT, DE, MA, NJ, NY, RI and VT) .October 2012:
Texas 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."
The City of Chicago says it collected $54.4 million in fines from unwary motorists caught by their new speed cameras in 2017, and over $672.4 million in red light camera fines since its red light camera program started back in 2008. Up to 300 cameras have been installed near schools and parks in the name of safety. Motorists are 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 help the city balance its ongoing budget woes, says da Mayor.
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.
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!).