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Will new technology help prevent speeding tickets?

For as long as there has been speed enforcement, there have been efforts by motorists to use whatever methods were available to avoid speeding tickets.

it probably started with simple conversation between neighbors and friends. “Bill, keep an eye out as you’re approaching exit 12 on the highway because this one officer always hides there…”.

Then headlight flashing became common among drivers in the mid 1960s when cars began to come with headlight beam selectors located on the steering column—typically activated by pulling the turn signal stalk—rather than the previous foot-operated switches. Once activation was moved to the signal stalk, drivers could momentarily activate their high beams regardless of whether their headlights were turned on or off. Drivers now had a readily available means to attempt communication with one another by flashing their headlamps.

Next came the radar detector in the 1970s. The first model–the “fuzzbuster”–was introduced as a result of the 1974 National Maximum Speed Law. This law was a provision of the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act and it prohibited speed limits higher than 55 mph. This cap was intended to reduce gasoline consumption in response to the oil crisis of the early 1970s.

Note that in 1987 the national speed limit was raised to 65 mph limits on certain roads and in 1995 the law was repealed altogether, returning the power of setting speed limits to the states. That lower speed limit of 55mph across the board never decreased consumption to the extent lawmakers thought it would.

However, the use of technology to avoid speeding tickets continues today. The “fuzzbuster” gave way to increasingly advanced radar and laser detectors and a game of cat and mouse radar enforcement and detection between enforcement officers and drivers was on.

Now GPS, readily available to motorists either via a navigation system or their cell phone, is in the mix.

Trapster is one such service which uses GPS based technology and enables your mobile phone or navigation device to alert you as you approach police “speed traps”.

I’ve been asked a few times whether it works. I can’t say too much because I’ve never personally tried it, but the GPS based process is simple enough and I’m sure it does exactly what the service claims to do. If person A presses a button on their device or calls a number when they are passing what they perceive to be a speed enforcement officer, other users of the service will get an alert as they approach that location.

Will that help people avoid speeding tickets? If a driver who otherwise is continually driving above the speed limit now slows down on occasion when an alert sounds, I imagine this person must be decreasing the odds of receiving a speeding ticket. In that respect, yes–it must help. Perhaps it is a tool worth incorporating, along with careful driving and keeping your eyes open, that can reduce the chances of getting a speeding ticket.

However, consider the following before employing technology like this:

  • If widely used, the system will eventually be packed with every location anyone has every seen an officer actually enforcing speed OR responding to an accident OR taking a nap OR eating lunch…   My point is there is a danger in the long run that this device that cries “police” won’t be any more effective than the boy who cried “wolf” was at getting his message across.
  • Where radar detectors forced enforcement to invent new technologies and improve the radar guns to negate the radar detection technology, all enforcement needs to do to thwart this type of early warning is vary the location of their enforcement.  Seems like a relatively easy fix to me.
  • “Distracted driving” is currently, for good reason, a very hot national topic.  Do we need more distractions, alerts and things to look at while we are driving?

People want to avoid speeding tickets.  I get that–we’ve built a law firm based on the concept that no one wants to be issued a speeding ticket or convicted of a speeding violation.  At the end of the day, the rules for avoiding tickets really haven’t changed much since the earliest days of speed enforcement.  Drive safe and obey the rules of the road are first and foremost.  However, if you are tempted to break a rule here or there (such as speeding or rolling through a stop sign at an empty intersection or failing to use your signal), then you’ll need to keep your eyes open for enforcement officers.  If new technology can help you with that, go for it.  Just don’t forget that the best way to avoid a speeding ticket will always be driving within the posted speed limit.

Submitted by Scott Feifer