With the first major driving holiday of the summer season approaching, we have analyzed the laws across the country to determine the best and the worst states when it comes to exploiting the motoring public.
These state rankings were calculated using seventeen criteria related to specific traffic laws, enforcement practices, and the treatment of traffic ticket defendants. The rankings are designed to provide guidance to travelers who do not want their vacation ruined by speed traps, arcane laws or "kangaroo" traffic courts.
The state most likely to find its way into your wallet is New Jersey. With its toll roads, roadblocks, and speed traps, New Jersey has left almost no stone unturned when it comes to extracting cash from motorists. The state has also recently pushed through a red-light camera pilot project at a time when many states are banning the ticket cameras because they've proven to have a negative effect on traffic safety. Add in "driver responsibility" fees, which are ineffective and have a disproportionate effect on the poor, and you have the worst state in our rankings.
Here are the worst ten states:
1) New Jersey
5) New York
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the five states that treated motorists most fairly are Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, and Kentucky. The complete list of rankings and the criteria we have used can be found at the bottom of this article.
Jim Baxter, President of the National Motorists Association, said "It is not exactly a well kept secret that many traffic laws, enforcement practices, and traffic courts are more about generating revenue and political posturing, than they are about traffic safety. During holidays, like the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, we're bombarded with messages about intensified enforcement, "click it or ticket," and horrendous fines when in fact most vacation-related traffic accidents are caused by inattention, distraction and fatigue. However, these are accident causes that don't generate much in the way of government revenue, so instead our highways are overrun with unmarked police cars and ticket cameras."
Baxter went on to say "The long term solution to aligning legitimate public interests with government policies is to remove the money from traffic regulation, enforcement, and adjudication. Until that happens, the focus on revenue generation will continue to trump effective traffic regulation and ethical enforcement practices."
With this in mind, motorists who will be traveling to unfamiliar areas during the holiday may want to check out the NMA's National Speed Trap Exchange -- a listing of speed traps across the country -- at www.speedtrap.org.
Full List Of State Rankings From Worst To Best
1) New Jersey
5) New York
20) North Carolina
22) Rhode Island
23) West Virginia
24) New Hampshire
26) New Mexico
33) South Carolina
42) South Dakota
45) North Dakota
List of Criteria Used To Generate Rankings (no particular order)
1) Speed Traps Per Capita (# of speed traps listed on www.speedtrap.org indexed to population)
2) Does the state have "driver responsibility" fees?
3) Does the state have mayor's courts?
4) Does the state authorize the use of roadblocks?
5) What are the freeway speed limits?
6) Does the state have red-light cameras?
7) Does the state have speed cameras?
8) Are there toll roads in the state?
9) Is a jury trial available for traffic violations?
10) Is trial by declaration (asserting a defense in writing without appearing in court) available?
11) Is the state a member of the Non-Resident Violator Compact?
12) Is the state a member of the Driver's License Compact?
13) Are radar detectors banned in the state?
14) Does the state have a primary seat belt law?
15) Are there adult helmet laws in the state?
16) Are there move-over laws in the state?
17) Is cell phone use banned?