Why blanket speed limits are wrong

Several years ago an NMA member got in touch about a speeding ticket he got in Boston. The ticket said 40-something in a 30 zone. The ticket was a lie. Not the speed, the limit.

Like most cities, Boston doesn’t train police to enforce traffic law. Boston trains police to write tickets.

Officers are told to ticket anybody driving over 30 in the city, but that’s not the law.

It’s not the law on that part of Cambridge Street, which is a divided highway and thus a 50 zone.

It’s not the law anywhere in Massachusetts because speed limits here are “prima facie” limits. It’s not illegal to drive over the limit as long as the speed is reasonable under the circumstances. Obviously some police officers know they are breaking the law because in court they refuse to answer questions about whether the defendant was driving safety.

It turns out there was supposed to be a posted speed limit there, and it was higher than 30. I wrote to the police department with a copy of the official speed regulation and signs were posted.

That the city acted on my letter is surprising. Many police chiefs see nothing wrong with illegal or secret speed limits.

The reply called the situation “unique” but that’s just for PR. If police were trained properly they would know better than to run an obvious speed trap.

This is why we shouldn’t have blanket speed limit laws based on typical conditions. They aren’t enforced for typical conditions. They are enforced where the limit should have been raised, but authorities preferred speed traps to safe roads.

The opinions expressed in belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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