11/3/2007Texas: Federal Gas Tax Money Enforces Illegal Speed Limit
Federal taxpayers fund effort by Galveston, Texas to raise revenue with low speed limits.
Funds from federal taxes on gasoline are diverted to uses unrelated to the upkeep and construction of existing and new roads. In Galveston, Texas, for example, local officials are celebrating a $100,000 grant paid for by motorists around the country. The new money will be used to buy lidar guns -- speed measuring devices that use laser instead of radar.
Galveston police will use these speed guns to issue speeding tickets to motorists in locations where the limits are posted so low that, in at least one case, 96 percent of motorists drive in perfect safety by ignoring it. In effect, the guns give local officers a license to write an expensive citation and hand it to any motorist of their choosing.
Traffic studies conducted on Seawall Boulevard showed that 87 percent of the public voted with their right foot against the 35 and 45 MPH speed limits. Eighty percent did not like the 45 MPH limit on Harborside Drive, a major commuter road. On the causeway, only four percent of motorists adhered to the low 50 MPH speed limit.
Federal regulations mandate the posting of speed limits that match the speed at which 85 percent of traffic moves in free-flowing conditions. Engineering studies have long found this to be the safest speed and that enforcing lower limits can actually be counterproductive for safety (view traffic safety manual excerpt, in PDF format).