across the country have always shared information about which towns
are speed traps. But now, AAA has taken the idea a step further.
rigs headed into the Florida towns of Waldo and Lawtey will pass
by two large billboards with the names of the towns and the words
“Speed Trap,” along with the distance from the billboard to the
town, The Associated Press reported recently. The auto group
put the billboards up.
to AAA, fines make up a considerable portion of the two town’s budgets,
qualifying as the top source of revenue. In Lawtey, fines are 45
percent of the city budget, while in Waldo, they make up 31 percent
of city revenue. The two towns sit about 19 miles apart along U.S.
301 near Gainesville in north central Florida.
not the first time AAA or others have gone after the two towns.
The association has listed them as the only “traffic traps” in America
(although it lists several other “Strict Enforcement Areas”).
2001, Florida legislators introduced two bills to outlaw the speed
traps in the two towns.
problem of overzealous traffic enforcement within the city limits
of Waldo and Lawtey has existed for years,” Rep. David Russell,
R-Spring Hill, said at that time. Russell was chairman of the House
Transportation Committee and supported the two bills. “The time
has come for these two cities to develop their economies by means
other than the exorbitant extraction of fines from unsuspecting
auto association even went so far as to work with the Florida Department
of Transportation on placing highly reflective yellow panels on
all “Speed Limit,” “Speed Strictly Enforced” and “Reduced Speed
Ahead” signs on the highways leading into Waldo and Lawtey.
Police Chief A.W. Smith told The AP his town’s speed enforcement
is to promote safety, not income, and he points to a low number
of traffic incidents to prove his point.
resident Tom Ramsey was more blunt.
is way out of line," Ramsey told the news service, calling
the billboard “a lie. It's not true."
issue of speed traps has come up in other states as well. In June,
Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry signed legislation to crack down on certain
speed traps in small Oklahoma towns that use them as moneymakers.
earlier investigation by The Oklahoman revealed eight cities
and towns in that state receive more than 50 percent of their total
revenue from police fines; at least 18 communities get more than
26 percent of their money from police fines.
new law, which passed as HB1456, could result in certain municipalities
losing the authority to write all those speeding tickets. Under
the new law, the Public Safety Commissioner would be given the power
to take local law enforcers off certain state highways and interstates
and reassign those roads to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. It also
gives the commissioner the authority to further investigate complaints
of municipalities operating speed traps.
Oklahoma bill takes effect Nov. 1.