This weekly post features recent news stories that highlight and update themes previously covered throughout NMA E-Newsletters and Alerts.
Editor’s Note: For years, the tiny town of Waldo, Florida, routinely made the news as one of the most predatory speed traps in the country. But now it’s making headlines for a different, but related, reason: The town’s police force has been disbanded amid allegations of ticket quotas and other irregularities. The trouble began in August when Chief Mike Szabo was suspended over allegations he had secretly recorded conversations with officers. Interim Chief Kenneth Smith was suspended a few weeks later over allegations he had imposed a strict ticket quota. The Alachua County Sheriff’s Department has stepped in to provide routine policing.
In 2012, the NMA ranked Waldo as the Third Worst Speed Trap City in the Country with a population under 50,000. See the full rankings below.
Nationwide Poll Reveals Top U.S. and Canadian Speed Traps
Waunakee, WI — In the spirit of election season, the National Motorists Association (NMA ) has conducted its own public polling to identify the worst speed trap locations across the United States and Canada.
Speed traps typically combine arbitrarily low speed limits with heavy traffic enforcement designed to generate ticket revenue. While the intent may be to modify driver behavior long-term, that is rarely the result. Speed traps keep springing up in the same locations, the issuance of tickets flows unabated, and there is no material effect on traffic safety. That is why the NMA advocates for increased speed limits in chronic speed trap areas supported by traffic studies and proven engineering principles.
The NMA analyzed the most recent five years of data from its website The National Speed Trap Exchange , which lists tens of thousands of chronic speed traps in the United States and Canada and includes descriptive commentary about each listing. Since postings are generated by the public, and users vote on which locations qualify as speed traps, the rankings reflect the consensus of thousands of drivers throughout North America.
To develop the rankings, the NMA calculated the total number of affirmative votes across speed traps in a given community and then indexed the total to the community’s population size. A preliminary screening process ensured that only speed traps with high levels of consensus were factored into the rankings.
Worst Speed Trap Cities (population greater than 50,000):
|Rank||City||Affirmations/ 1,000 Residents|
|1||Flower Mound, Texas||8.7|
“All of Flower Mound is a speed trap,” commented one driver on The National Speed Trap Exchange.
Worst Speed Trap Cities (population less than 50,000):
|Rank||City||Affirmations/ 1,000 Residents|
|5||Summersville, West Virginia||158|
“There are many speed traps in Texas….this one is the worst. Tiny town, one cop, expensive police car,” said another Speed Trap Exchange user about Estelline, Texas.
Worst Speed Trap States and Provinces:
|Rank||State/Province||Affirmations/ 100,000 Residents|
|3||District of Columbia||53.4|
Minnesota, Quebec and New Hampshire fared best with voters. Click here to see all state and province rankings .
Welcome to Detroit—Now Pay Up!
Several cities surrounding the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport deserve special mention as operators of an extraordinary cluster of speed traps. Motorists who visited The National Speed Trap Exchange within the past five years complained overwhelmingly about opportunistic law enforcement tactics in Romulus, Livonia, Allen Park, Redford, Taylor, Northville, and Dearborn Heights. They identified 187 specific locations in those seven cities, voting a staggering 6348 to 842 (88.3 percent) to affirm that each deserved the speed trap label.
To put this in perspective, let’s compare the grouping of these seven Michigan cities with the American city most comparable in population: Tampa, Florida. You would expect Tampa, as a major tourist destination, to have a heavy dose of speed traps and you would be correct. But the speed trap reporting on Tampa over the last five years pales in comparison to that of the seven cities in the Detroit metro area. Tampa’s five-year speed trap statistics per The National Speed Trap Exchange: 69 speed trap locations and a verification vote of 1133 to 316 (78.2 percent).
One wonders if law enforcement in Romulus, Livonia, Allen Park, Redford, Taylor, Northville, and Dearborn Heights regards unsuspecting visitors to the Detroit area the same way a used car salesperson views a first-time buyer.
The bottom line: If your travels take you near Detroit, or to any of the other destinations on our list, be particularly watchful of the speed trap locations identified by fellow motorists at the National Motorists Association’s National Speed Trap Exchange . It could save you from a ticket that could otherwise ruin that business trip or family visit.