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Watch Your Wallet When Driving Through These 10 States

May 2009

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
2) Ohio
3) Maryland
4) Louisiana
5) New York
6) Illinois
7) Delaware
8) Virginia
9) Washington
10) Massachusetts

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

Full List Of State Rankings From Worst To Best

1) New Jersey
2) Ohio
3) Maryland
4) Louisiana
5) New York
6) Illinois
7) Delaware
8) Virginia
9) Washington
10) Massachusetts
11) Colorado
12) Oregon
13) Tennessee
14) California
15) Michigan
16) Vermont
17) Maine
18) Florida
19) Pennsylvania
20) North Carolina
21) Alabama
22) Rhode Island
23) West Virginia
24) New Hampshire
25) Arizona
26) New Mexico
27) Missouri
28) Texas
29) Oklahoma
30) Nevada
31) Georgia
32) Connecticut
33) South Carolina
34) Iowa
35) Hawaii
36) Arkansas
37) Alaska
38) Kansas
39) Mississippi
40) Wisconsin
41) Utah
42) South Dakota
43) Indiana
44) Minnesota
45) North Dakota
46) Kentucky
47) Nebraska
48) Montana
49) Idaho
50) Wyoming

List of Criteria Used To Generate Rankings (no particular order)

1) Speed Traps Per Capita (# of speed traps listed on 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?

NMA Press Release Archives

When You Hit the Road this Thanksgiving, “Do the Right Thing” and Let Faster Traffic Pass  November 2014

The Fleecing of U.S. Motorists: States that Collect the Most Tolls, Taxes and Fines also Divert More from Highway Spending  August 2014

National Motorists Association Identifies States that Exploit Drivers the Most  May 2014

National Motorists Association Takes Red-Light Camera Fight to Airwaves  February 2014 

Major Upgrade to Popular Site Includes Spotlight on Worst Speed Traps  August 2013

Flawed Surveys Distort Public Opinion on Red-Light Cameras  May 2013  

FHWA Rebuked for Inadequate Safety Standards for Signalized Intersections  November 2012 

Nationwide Poll Reveals Top U.S. and Canadian Speed Traps  August 2012

Where Are You Most Likely to Get a Speeding Ticket?  May 2012  

NMA Issues Challenge to Cities Using Red-Light Ticket Cameras  November 2011

U.S. and Canadian Cities with Highest Speed Trap Activity Identified  September 2011

Website Publishes Holiday Travel Information That Apple and RIM Won't  July 2011

National Motorists Association Declares June "Lane Courtesy Month"  May 2011

When you see a police car on the side of the road, it should make you feel more safe.
So why doesn't it?

Across the United States, even the most careful, safe drivers on the road would probably admit to being nervous when they spot a police officer enforcing traffic laws. Instead of inspiring feelings of safety, our traffic laws are used to create fear. Can this ever change?

The NMA Questions the Motivation Behind MADD's Support of Ignition Interlock Devices  November 2010

The Worst Speed Trap Cities In North America  September 2010

Speeding Tickets By State: Where Are Drivers Most Likely To Be Ticketed?  July 2010

Dispelling Highway Construction Zone Myths  May 2010

Hide Your Wallet: 7 Places To Avoid Driving Through This Holiday Weekend  September 2009

A Speeding Ticket By Mail? It Could Happen To You This Holiday Weekend  July 2009

Watch Your Wallet When Driving Through These 10 States  May 2009

Motorist Group Warns Drivers To Look Out For Record-High Traffic Enforcement Levels  May 2008

Worst Speed Trap Cities In The USA - November 2007  November 2007

NMA Calls for Special Session to Repeal Virginia Ticket Tax  July 2007

June is Lane Courtesy Month  June 2007

Top Speed Traps In The USA - May 2007   May 2007

Top Speed Traps In The USA - June 2006  June 2006

Albo's Motivation Should Be Questioned  February 2006

10th Anniversary of the Repeal of the 55 NMSL  December 2005

Simple Measures Could Make Big Difference in Gas Consumption  September 2005

Court to Rule on Motorist's Right to Twelve-Person Jury  December 2004

Motorist Group Challenges DOT DUI Claims  March 2004

Citzen Outrage Over $300 Fines   March 2004

Use of Road Funds by State Police May Violate Michigan Constitution   November 2003

New Fees Target Michigan Drivers  September 2003

Fix The Problem, Not Your Budget (National Stop on Red Week)  September 2002

$10,000 Ticket Camera Challenge  May 2002

Alcohol-Related Deaths Increase  October 2001

National Motorists Association Responds to New Jersey's 65 Mph Speed Limit Report  August 2001

Revenue Drives Red Light Cameras, Not Safety  July 2001

Cities At Fault For Red Light Violations, Not Drivers  July 2001

Red Light Citations Drop Below One Per Day  July 2001

Saturn Boycott  March 2001

Montana: No Speed Limit-Safety Paradox  February 2000

Getting More Miles Per Gallon  February 2000

Labor Day Travelers Beware: Police Are Preparing Their Ticket Books!  September 1999

Foundation Study Shows: Safe To Raise Freeway Speed Limits  March 1999

Great Year for Highway Safety!  January 1999

Study Confirms Fine Doubling Doesn't Work  October 1998

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