I have written about this topic before but with summer nearing and the driving season upon us I thought a refresher course was due. All of our states could use a few extra bucks and they have figured out how each of us can help.
For starters, all of us have lived through the sickening feeling of seeing that big ol’ red light in our rearview mirror. It’s especially frustrating and nerve racking when we are driving our hot rods. There was a time when my boyish good looks would have the police officer go into a speech about driving safe—I’m young and need to learn; careful, your insurance will now go up; and you don’t want anything to happen to this nice car. I will not complain about a single ticket, for every time I was pulled over there were dozens of times where I should have been and wasn’t.
I am an old fart now and when pulled over the youthful officer with the oversized helmet, Aviator sunglasses, and a ticket book the size of War and Peace doesn’t even try to lecture me. Now it’s, “Hey someone your age should know better.” Well, duh, you would think.
Did you know in the early days of highway safety that speed limits were established based on safety in a given area along specific stretches of road? Well, nowadays speed limits are “adjusted” not based on road safety but based on the state, county, city, or township revenue requirements.
In doing my research I found some interesting tidbits like: “Speed limits are supposed to be based on factual studies of traffic and what the majority of motorists deem as a safe speed,” Chad Dornsife, director of the Highway Safety Group, says. “Now, the posted limit has become a revenue generator—not a safety device.”
A little deeper digging and I came across this chunk of information from The National Motorists Association, a drivers’ rights group that estimates speeding tickets are a $4.5 to $6 billion industry in America. You would think all of us who have contributed should be deemed shareholders and participate in some form of dividend payment system.
Some clarification is needed as to what constitutes a speeder. There are municipalities that will ticket you for going 1 mph over the speed limit and others set the speed limits artificially low. Speeders aren’t always the crazed-eye hoodlum type.
“In some places, the average speed limit is set 10 to 15 miles below the actual safe speed for conditions,” Dornsife says. “It makes technical violators out of people otherwise driving safely.” Are you beginning to understand how important it is for you to drive with a watchful eye—regardless of whether it is your hot rod or your cowboy Cadillac?
In my hometown area (Los Angeles) it’s been reported that there are 151 speed traps, making it much easier to catch more speeders in a given timeframe. You’ll get a ticket in one of these areas, which aren’t necessarily on the freeways but on local streets. Let’s say you get a speeding ticket in one of these areas and you don’t have proof of insurance. Hang on, the cash register can easily run up to $1,400 in fines. As for fighting tickets in Los Angeles—well, it’s frowned upon. Our cities and the state are at or nearing bankruptcy and since the citizens won’t authorize any new taxes, the state and local government officials have to find the money somewhere.
I find myself, at the time of this writing, getting ready to leave for Austin, Texas. So, being the vigilant driver of a hot rod I thought I would check out Austin to see how it treats drivers. Hope you are all sitting down for this one.