Study points to speed traps in some Oklahoma towns

| 1/2/2003

Anyone who drives through rural America is familiar with the cherry pit that section of highway through a small town where the speed limit drops and the police cruisers or cherry tops lay in wait for hapless speeders.

Opponents of speed traps have long criticized the practice, saying it's more about income than enforcement. And now, spurred by a new study, a group of those critics are asking Oklahoma to make the traps illegal, The Associated Press reported Dec. 31.

"People are using police as a method of tax collection, Jim Baxter, president of the National Motorists Association, told The AP. It undermines the public's view of traffic enforcement." Baxter's group promotes legislation to outlaw speed traps.

The report, conducted by The Sunday Oklahoman, showed at least 18 Oklahoma communities get 26 percent or more of their incomes from speeding tickets. The paper looked at audits of every town and city in the state to derive the figures. Police fines made up more than 70 percent of city revenue in two of the communities examined in the study. Hardesty, OK, a panhandle town on U.S. 412 just north of the Texas border; and Stringtown, OK, which sits on U.S. 69 in the southeast part of the state.