‘It looked like he was speeding’

Sandi Soendker
Managing Editor


You gotta be kiddin’ me.

By a majority of 5-1, the justices of the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled June 2 that police officers in the Buckeye State can issue speeding tickets based on visual estimates of speed and without any other form of proof such as radar.

This is one of the most inconsistent decisions to come down from the bench in years.

One trucker e-mailed me an interesting suggestion that this boneheaded decision is ready-made for that “Mythbusters” show on the Discovery Channel. I am totally on board with such an episode.

We want to see the popular TV show people set up a test on a major highway through Ohio with two teams of Ohio police. One team uses radar; one team just uses eyeballs. Let them guesstimate the speed of a dozen cars, a couple motorcycles and a couple dozen semi trucks. Let’s see if those Ray-Banned eyeballs can be trusted to detect speed crimes and are accurate enough to write a ticket for a serious violation that could contribute to a trucker losing his CDL.

I am not saying that some cops do not have such superpowers, for I do believe in Dirty Harry. But would it not be realistic to consider that not all officers have the same spatial acuity?

The judges ruled that the practice is allowed as long as an officer has been trained and certified in visual speed estimation by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. I wonder what kind of training they get there. What kind of extensive training could there be for visual speed estimation? Maybe a few hours out on the highway guessing speeds and then you get a signed certificate?

For truckers who regularly roll through Ohio, we recommend that you consider changing your paint, stripes, driving habits, etc. that may give the illusion that you are going fast.

Ditch the flames and racing stripes and don’t lean forward on the wheel, even if your back needs a rest. If your wife or girlfriend is riding with you, tell her not to hang on at roundabouts as if she’s at Six Flags. If your dog likes to travel with its head out the window, ears flapping madly in the wind, you’ll have to keep the windows up in Ohio.

Pissing off cops for any reason while you’re there is not a good idea either. LL

Editor’s note: In this issue of Land Line, Associate Editor Dave Tanner reports on how this ruling came about. See his story on Page 38.