The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

June 29, 2014

Speed traps

Area speeding ticket data show enforcement is far from excessive

ENID, Okla. — It’s easy to cry “speed trap” when you drive through a small town on the highway and see a police car on the side of the road, presumably with the officer inside with a radar gun.

After all, speeding tickets do generate money for those communities, but like almost everything, that view is simplistic and could be flat-out wrong.

Consider the town of Waukomis. It sits along U.S. 81, and the speed drops from 65 mph to 45 mph through town. Many people will see that drop in speed and come to the conclusion it’s a “speed trap.”

However, as Waukomis Police Chief Robert Asch pointed out in a recent News & Eagle article, the town does not set the speed limit. That’s set by the state. All his department does is enforce the limit.

And the figures show that enforcement is far from excessive, far from the so-called speed trap.

Waukomis Police Department has issued some 200 speeding tickets since the beginning of the year. Those tickets have generated revenue of $40,500. But, when you consider an average of 3,000 vehicles a day travel U.S. 81, that doesn’t break down to many speeding tickets.

And, the average speeding ticket in Waukomis is for someone traveling an average of 63 mph in the 45 mph speed zone. That’s 18 mph over the limit.

The same averages hold true in other communities surveyed by the News & Eagle. The number of tickets being written, when compared with the amount of traffic, don’t appear to be excessive.

Yes, as we said, communities make money off tickets, but ultimately what it boils down to is a safety issue.

In some communities — but certainly not all — the highway can divide the town.

That means houses could be on one side of the highway and the town’s park or school may be on the other, with pedestrians having to dodge traffic to get from one side to the other. A vehicle exceeding the speed limit literally could be the difference between life and death.

 No one likes to pay a traffic fine. Everyone has a better use for their money. The best thing to do is to be aware and slow down. Keep an eye out for the speed limit signs and follow the law.

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