We are not unlike you or most other people; we want to drive what we want to drive, go where we want to go and in the process not be unwitting cannon fodder for self-serving government programs, over-bearing police departments or greedy courts.
We have come to understand that we must join together to fight for our rights and protect our freedoms. The National Motorists Association is our chosen vehicle for this journey.
Here are a few of the things we believe in:
1) Taxes related to driving or vehicle ownership should only be used for road construction and maintenance.
Politicians vote to tax us for new roads and fixing the old ones. Fair enough; good roads that are properly maintained aren't free. But then, when they get our money they waste it on pork barrel projects or spend it on anything but streets roads and highways.
Here's the perpetual cycle we're stuck in:
This cycle will continue unless someone stops it and we're fighting to do that.
2) Drivers already pay taxes to construct and maintain our roads so they should not be forced to pay for them again in the form of toll roads.
Because the transportation budget is continually raided, there isn't enough money to maintain the roads. This allows politicians to justify the use of tolling.
It appears at first glance to be a reasonable way of funding the roads -- the people who use them the most, pay the most. Except that the roads were already paid for by those same drivers through vehicle registration fees and gas taxes.
Toll roads allow governments to tax drivers for the same thing twice!
We believe this is unfair to drivers. We work to prevent the establishment of toll roads, fight back against new tolling schemes (like congestion charging), and to encourage the conversion of existing toll roads back to the public roadways they always should have been.
3) Drivers should not be stopped or detained without probable cause.
Currently, roadblocks are being used to circumvent the need for probable cause to stop, interrogate, and search the occupants of motor vehicles. The pretense might be a seatbelt check, registration or drivers license verification, proof of insurance, or a "safety" inspection.
Roadblocks give the police the opportunity to abuse any individual or group they chose to target. This can lead to racial profiling, among other injustices.
Instead of pulling over thousands of innocent drivers to find the one driver guilty of a minor traffic violation, the police should be required to have probable cause to pull over a motorist.
The bottom line is that we believe that drivers -- who have committed no crimes -- should have the right to travel where and when they desire without being stopped, detained, or questioned by government officials.
We fight to protect that right.
4) Drivers have a right to a fair trial.
A fair trial is a basic constitutional right that has been increasingly stripped away from motorists.
Our judicial system is based on the idea that people should be considered innocent until proven guilty. When it comes to traffic tickets, this expectation has been flipped. Drivers with traffic tickets are assumed to be guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent.
We believe that this is unfair to motorists and in direct violation of the principles of our judicial system.
Furthermore, in cases involving traffic tickets, the prosecution often goes to great lengths to stop defendants from getting to the information that they need to defend themselves effectively.
We believe that motorists have a right to see this information without being forced to jump through expensive and/or time-consuming hoops.
Some courts even go as far as to charge drivers addtional fees (regardless of whether they win or lose) just to simply hear their case. We're working to stop this illegal, unconstitutional practice.
5) Corporations should have no influence on traffic laws or public referendums relating to traffic laws.
With the increasing privatization of traffic enforcement (particularly with ticket camera systems), corporations with a direct financial stake in ticketing as many motorists as possible are having too much influence on traffic laws.
These corporations have become skilled at creating "front groups" that appear to be run by citizens. They distort the effects of ticket cameras by claiming they improve safety when in fact they increase traffic accidents and make our streets more dangerous.
We believe that these front groups are dishonest attempts to mislead citizens and local officials and we are working to expose them as nothing more than public relations schemes to plant profit-making ticket cameras in our communities.
6) Money should not be corrupting our traffic enforcement system.
Police departments, court systems, local governments, and private corporations are using traffic tickets to generate revenue for their own purposes. These obvious conflicts of interest have corrupted the traffic enforcement system.
Instead of government and police officials focusing on traffic laws and services that make our roads safer, they dwell on tactics designed to extract as much money from drivers as possible.
You can see this in rampant ticketing binges, bloated ticket fines, speed traps, and exorbitant fees and surcharges.
The system has been designed to discourage people from fighting their tickets. This designed inconvenience keeps the court system from overflowing with traffic ticket defendants, but it also causes thousands of innocent drivers each year to concede defeat and "just pay the ticket."
We believe that a system that creates unreasonable laws and then tolerates (or encourages) the punishment of innocent drivers is corrupt and needs to be changed.
7) Speed limits should be consistent with the typical speeds of normal, responsible drivers.
Speed limits should be based on sound traffic-engineering principles that consider responsible motorists' actual travel speeds. We're not alone in this belief. This standard is widely accepted by traffic engineers and the transportation departments of almost every state.
Realistic speed limits invite public compliance by conforming to the behavior of normal reasonable drivers. Setting speed limits at this level would allow the police to easily separate the dangerous drivers from the reasonable majority.
Here's a quick example of what we're talking about:
There are numerous roadways where 100% of drivers are traveling above the speed limit. Everyone has driven on a road like this.
Does this mean that everyone driving on this road is some kind of a thrill-seeking speed demon? No, it just means that the speed limit has been set incorrectly. On a road with a correctly-set speed limit, these same drivers would be traveling at or even slightly under the posted limit.
With speed limits set too low, tickets are handed out more or less randomly. The police can pick out any driver on the road and give them a ticket. This also opens the door for using traffic tickets to target minorities or harass other groups or individuals.
It also does nothing to improve driver safety; in fact it's more likely to cause accidents due to traffic disruption, uneven traffic flow, and distraction.
We've made a lot of progress on this issue (our founding issue was repealing the national 55 mph speed limit) but there's still a mountain of work to be done.
8) Speed traps should not be tolerated by drivers or encouraged by local governments.
Thanks to poor speed limit policy, speed traps are used by police departments daily to meet ticket quotas and drum up additional revenue.
Whether it's the traditional officer-hiding-at-the-bottom-of-a-hill scenario or an institutionalized speed trap (like a speed limit intentionally set too low), motorists should not tolerate the use of speed traps as an enforcement tool.
We do our best to expose over 60,000 speed traps through our National Speed Trap Registry.
If we work together, we can end speed traps for good.
9) Ticket cameras (speed cameras and red-light cameras) do not make our roads safer.
One of the biggest changes in the traffic ticket industry, over the past decade, has been the expansion of ticket camera programs. These programs are nothing but money-making schemes cooked up by the private corporations and sold to ethically challenged government officials.
These corporations are adept at roping in local officials hungry for an easy way to raise revenue while giving the impression of being concerned about safety.
However, there is no evidence that these ticket camera systems make drivers more safe. In fact, the opposite has proven true. Ticket cameras increase accidents!
The National Motorists Association was one of the first organizations to publicize this information. For years, the media was content to take the word of ticket camera merchants and local governments, but that has quickly changed over the past few years as more and more negative safety results have rolled in.
There has been an unprecedented rollback of ticket camera programs across the country, thanks in large part to the efforts of the NMA and our members.
We're continuing to fight back against the remaining ticket camera programs and help stop the installation of new ones.
10) Cities should not be allowed to manipulate yellow light timing to generate additional revenue.
As the popularity of ticket cameras increased, the ticket camera corporations got more and more bold with their attempts to cheat drivers out of their money.
Several years ago, we publcized a collection of news stories where the corporations and local governments were caught shortening the yellow light time of traffic signals so that more drivers would get tickets. Even in cities where they didn't actively shorten the yellow light time, they were often found to be taking advantage of an improperly short yellow light time.
Thanks to that article, numerous followup articles, our Stop Short Yellow Lights Project, and the efforts of our members, this issue quickly rose to national prominence. The increased awareness prompted new laws and investigations into existing ticket camera programs.
Manipulating yellow light times to generate more tickets is morally wrong. We fight to stop the ticket camera corporations from getting away with it.