5/25/2010Michigan: Lawmakers Propose Crack Down On Speed Traps
Proposed Michigan law would require speed limits be set according to engineering, not budgetary principles.
A bipartisan team of state lawmakers last week filed legislation that would crack down on the use of speeding tickets to generate revenue in Michigan. State Representatives Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) and Bettie C. Scott (D-Detroit) placed their substantial law enforcement credibility behind the measure to force localities to use legitimate engineering studies to set speed limits. Jones was Eaton County Sheriff with 31-years experience while Scott spent seventeen years on the force in Detroit.
"As a former police officer, I know the impact that these speed traps have on motorists in Detroit and across Michigan," Scott said in a statement. "When someone is convicted of speeding, even when the limit is set artificially low, they're forced to pay a significant fine while their auto insurance rates rise. They will also incur the two-year Driver Responsibility Act fees. Our hard-working residents are being squeezed enough without having to pay fines they shouldn't have to pay."
Between 2004 and 2009, Michigan's tax on license points -- primarily from speeding tickets, generated $400 million in revenue. The National Motorists Association has documented speed traps throughout Michigan responsible for generating a large portion of these fines. The group named the Detroit suburbs as among the worst in the country for targeting drivers. The traps are located in areas where the speed limits do not match the flow of traffic, despite a 2006 state law that set the proper method for setting limits.
"It is outrageous to set speed limits artificially low to write more tickets for city revenue," Jones said. "From my experience, I know that any officer can write plenty of tickets for big violations and does not need speed limits set artificially low. In fact, all of the police officers I know have great integrity and want absolutely nothing to do with speed traps created in this method. As sheriff I put it in writing that my department would have no quotas and officers would not be graded on writing tickets. I wanted only appropriate tickets to be written while I was sheriff. By setting limits too low, the average Joe on his way to work gets a ticket. Then he not only pays a fine but has his car insurance go up for three years."
Jones and Scott would require engineering studies to set speed limits within 5 MPH of the 85th percentile speed, which represents the speed at which 85 percent of free-flowing traffic feels is most safe. Studies confirm that this is the most effective method for setting limits. A copy of the bill is available in an 85k PDF file at the source link below.