Expanded speed radar use advances in Mississippi

| 2/14/2006

An effort to expand speed radar use in Mississippi was approved Feb. 8 by the state’s Senate. The bill now heads to the House for further consideration.

Sponsored by Sen. Gary Tollison, D-Oxford, the measure – SB2442 – would set up a two-year pilot program that would permit sheriffs in 28 counties throughout the state to use radar to enforce speed limits on rural roads.

Currently, Mississippi restricts the use of radar-speed-detection equipment to the Mississippi Highway Patrol and city police departments. Cities with populations less than 2,000 are prohibited from using radar on their public streets while cities of more than 15,000 can use radar on federal highways within their boundaries.

Supporters say the use of radar would help in places where the population is growing outside city limits. Opponents counter that the enforcement tool could be used to set up speed traps and rake in revenue from tickets.

Counties included in the pilot program are: Adams, Coahoma, Copiah, Clay, DeSoto, Harrison, Hinds, Jackson, Forrest, Jones, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lee, Leflore, Lafayette, Lowndes, Madison, Neshoba, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Pearl River, Pike, Quitman, Rankin, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Winston.

A couple of separate radar-related bills, however, have died.

One bill would have authorized the Mississippi Department of Transportation to use radar on state highways to enforce speed limits solely on large trucks.

Sponsored by Rep. Bennett Malone, D-Carthage, the measure would have permitted the agency’s law enforcement officers to track speeds of commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight in excess of 10,000 pounds.

Another effort sought to place additional limits on some speed enforcement.

Sponsored by Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, it would have prohibited the use of radar on state or federal highways within 1,000 feet of where the posted limit is reduced by 10 mph or more.

Malone’s bill – HB141 – and Moak’s bill – HB237 – remained in committee at a deadline to advance.