Whose Traffic Stops Are the Worst?

News you can use: Craig Fitzgerald picks the most egregious states for speeding tickets, sorting jurisdictions by several categories -- the most tickets written, the highest cost of fighting a ticket, the most unmarked state police cars, and so on. In the most subjective category, here's why he thinks Vermont has the country's sneakiest speed traps:

L'état, c'est Smokey.Mt. Tabor is a one-horse dot on Route 7a in western Vermont that doesn’t even have a traffic light. What it does have is a speed limit sign that drops to 40 mph, and you will get rung up by its zealous constable, a guy who drives a Camaro and gets paid by the number of tickets he writes. And he’s not alone. One constable in the village of Island Pond made national news by writing 1,100 tickets, with fines totaling $100,000 -- a tenth of the entire revenue of the town that year.

Those may or may not be the absolutely sneakiest speed traps in America, but either way the takeaway should be clear: If you're driving, stay the hell away from Island Pond.

Elsewhere in Reason: "Cop Fired for Speaking Out Against Ticket and Arrest Quotas."

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  • Fluffy||

    Hey guys -

    When the guy in front of you with Vermont plates slows down to 40 as he pulls up towards the antique places in Mt. Tabor, even though he's been humping it at 70 since Manchester, DON'T PASS HIM.

    Voila, no ticket.

  • some guy||

    When driving in the country that's always a dead giveaway. Some dude in a beat up pickup with local plates suddenly drops from 65 to 35... you best do the same.

    Choosing a driving speed is not about assessing safety risks. It's about assessing ticket risks.

  • Another Kevin||

    NEVER do more than 25 going through Island Pond. Teddy is either on the north side of town sitting in the school lot, or somewhere on the south side.

    Waiting. Watching.

  • ||

    I drove down from Burlington to Sudbury (south of Middlebury) on Route 7 this winter, and noticed a huge fluctuation in speed limits. My first and only assumption was it was for revenue generation/tax-farming.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    My route to and from work (no highways) is one long straight road. It goes from 25 to 35 to 40 to 25 to 40 to 35 to 40 to 55 and finally back down to 25. This is within a distance of about 10 miles. It is mostly residential with the 25 zone being in a commercial zone. Not surprisingly, there are cops near every single speed change. There is no difference in the zones that would account for the speed changes, just wonderfully placed (read: mostly hidden) speed limit signs that are all coincidentally right near a great place for a cop to hide.

    But it's all for public safety, no doubt.

  • ||

    All those fucking east side towns are the worst. Cleveland Heights, in particular, needs to be razed and the earth salted.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Cleveland Heights needs to be razed for many many reasons, but yeah the blatant speed traps are a big one.

    The worst on the east side is Timberlake and Lakeline. They are literally less than 200 acres combined. I know people that own more property than that. Timberlake is just and oval street and part of the main drag, and lakeline is literally 2 streets, no joke. Both have outsized police forces that do absolutely nothing except hide on the road and give out tickets. When their citizens are victims of actual crimes, they whine that they don't have the resources and hand the case off to the Eastlake, Wickliffe, or Willowick police.

  • itsnotmeitsyou||

    Couple quick stats:

    Timberlake has a population of 660, they have 8 cops.

    Washington DC has the highest number of cops per capita for a major city. Timberlake's per capita is twice that of DC...

  • Bobarian||

    All of Ohio [Cleveland Heights], in particular, needs to be razed and the earth salted.

    FTFY

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    At least Ohioans know how to abuse use HTML, dude.

    Oh, AND REMEMBER NEW ROME!

  • ||

    FUCK LINNDALE

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    I had no idea that even existed. They slowed down an Interstate? Where is the commerce clause when you need it?

    No, but for reals, New Rome was worse. They used to send their Stasi out into the city to arrest people at work over their tickets.

    http://www.caranddriver.com/fe.....thout-pity

  • ||

    Linndale still exists, though. Their bullshit mayor's court got shut down, but they still process their bullshit tickets in the Parma court.

  • Ted S.||

    Especially An Ohio State University. :-p

  • Paul.||

    Cleveland Heights, in particular, needs to be razed and the earth salted.

    The Detroit Municipal government has a proven plan for doing just that.

  • Invisible Finger||

    I wonder if the tree huggers in Vermont can counteract these wild fluctuations in speed limits by pointing out how much fossil fuel such fluctuations wastes.

  • A Serious Man||

    In the most subjective category, here's why he thinks Vermont has the country's sneakiest speed traps:

    Obligatory movie reference.

  • Rasilio||

    Even better for Mass, there is apparently no statute of limitations on parking tickets.

    I left the state 15 years ago and moved back last year only to discover that I could not get a Ma drivers license because my ex wife got a handful of parking tickets in our jointly owned vehicle way back then.

    Even worse, the DMV can't tell me how much I owe or collect those fines for me, no I have to contact each of the 3 city hall's where she got those tickets and make payment arrangements with them directly before they will release the hold on my license and they don't answer the phones in government offices here which means taking 1 or more days off work to go get the tickets cleared up then probably 1 more to get my license.

  • ||

    Well, look on the bright side. Here in Prague they arbitrarily change the direction of one way streets then hang out to catch people driving the wrong way.

  • KDN||

    At least there's comedic value in that.

  • Jerry on the boat||

    To honor Kafka?

  • ||

    That reminds me of this gem from The Onion.

  • ||

    A Swedish friend of mine who came here before the revolution put it thusly, "Kafka wasn't surrealistic, he was a documentarian!"

  • Zeb||

    My uncle, who is Spanish and lives in Madrid had a hilarious way of dealing with inconvenient one way streets. He woudl simply drive the wrong way but in reverse. Very quickly.

  • some guy||

    Elsewhere in Reason: "How Quotas Pervert Police Priorities: Fired Alabama Cop Speaks Out."

    We need an article on how laws pervert police priorities.

  • NeonCat||

    When I lived in Winston-Salem NC the police liked to have late night DUI roadblocks where one of the HS campuses straddled the road. It gave them plenty of room to set up with the bonus that if you had any drugs or weapons you were in a drug/gun free zone so you could be charged extra (helpful since MJ is decrim'd in NC).

  • KDN||

    New Jersey, with massive amounts of interstate highways, the most cops per capita in the US, and a crack paramilitary force devoting 75% of its resources to patrolling the interstates is nowhere to be found on this list. Just what the hell are we paying these guys for if we can't even make a stupid list on Yahoo?

  • Metazoan||

    That's true. NJ is pretty much 90% interstate, haha. I love that people always explain where things are relative to the numerous highways and their exit numbers.

  • WTF||

    Hell, I've blown by state troopers on the Parkway or on Route 80 doing 20-25mph over the limit, without them even bothering to get off the median. Usually if you're not cutting people off, weaving from lane to lane or acting like a douche they won't bother you unless it's near the time of the month they have to make a quota.

  • ||

    And this is a great reason to use the Waze app. The more people that use it, the more speed traps get reported, and we're all better off.

  • Rasilio||

    Yeah, now if they could only get their damn routing algorithm fixed

  • ||

    I've noticed most GPS systems have routing problems. Though on Waze, I don't know how to change from "shortest" to "fastest".

  • ||

    None of this beats Income based tickets.

  • GroundTruth||

    Learning to drive in norther New England, one heard many stories like this. It all boils down to: keep it under the posted limit... particularly near the general store that doubles as the town hall, post office gossip central and especially if it's at the bottom of a hill where you can pick up some speed and you don't live in that town.

  • AlexInCT||

    In the 90s the town of Middletown in CT managed to collect over $100 million, in just soem 5 short years, to build a police castle in that town from the speed traps on Rt 91. The state police made a killing from that shit too. Man did they hate it when that speed trap crap was shut down. Now they have to actually work to hide that they are setting up speed traps.

  • catmatmc||

    Emporia VA on Rt 58, just off I-95. Nuff said

  • anon||

    I second this.

    Also, Emporia is a shithole. I highly recommend nuking it from orbit.

  • some guy||

    Do they still hide in the median, obscured by the hills?

    South Hill on 58 off I-85 used to be pretty bad too, but I haven't been through there in ages.

  • ||

    The only reason I ever even entrained the thought of stopping in Emporia was because I adore Elliott Sadler. But I pushed on through to South of the Border.

  • KDN||

    Everywhere in VA is nasty. When driving down the east coast it's always a relief when you hit the NC border; the average speed increases by about 10 MPH despite the posted limit dropping by 5. I hate VA almost as much as Delaware (Fuck you, I-95 wolfpacks).

  • anon||

    Yeah, I used to drive up and down the east coast pretty frequently. Hitting the NC border means you can pretty much cruise at 80: One, cause everyone else is too, and Two, because getting stopped in NC doing 15 over means about jack shit.

  • ||

    Interesting. I got stopped for doing 80 in a 70 in Nash County (NC), and I got a ticket with no fine, which meant I had to go to court (well, the lawyer I hired had to go to court). It was basically a criminal offense.

  • anon||

    Did you have out of state plates?

    That's a criminal offense 'round here.

  • ||

    Probably - it was a rental. They were probably something like New York or Jersey plates.

  • anon||

    God help you if you're riding around with Jersey plates in NC.

  • ||

    Every time I rented a car, they would always give me the most embarrassing plates for the destination I was headed to. I had SC plates for a trip to VT once. Another time it was NJ plates. And always NY or NJ plates when I was headed to Florida.

  • HellsBells||

    Interstate travel isn't too bad for ticketing in NC, but God help you if you live in the triangle. There are plenty of roads in my area that don't have posted speed limits and you have to know to drive the statewide 35 mph. The end of every month you can find 10 cops in a 10 mile radius. And the cops are assholes. No warnings, no quarter.

  • sarcasmic||

    A nice thing about Maine is that all revenue from tickets goes to Secretary of the State, as well as revenue from asset forfeitures. The towns don't get a dime. Takes away some of the perverse incentives that exist in places. Though dickheads will be dickheads and set up speed traps just for the sake of being dickheads.

  • Rasilio||

    My wife admits to blowing her way out of 2 tickets in her youth.

    That alone gives cops plenty of incentive to set up speed traps.

  • Floridian||

    I never got that option.

  • AlexInCT||

    Blowing the cop, or getting blown?

    There is a distinction...

  • Floridian||

    Ha! Blowing the cop. I just got the standard pay the fine, driving school or court options.

  • anon||

    Does she admit to blowing her way out of that ticket last week?

  • Rasilio||

    Lol no, while I think she's cute it is a much less successful strategy when you are a 35 year old mother of 4 than when you are a 19 year old

  • Rasilio||

    It also kinda sucks because as she got older and had kids she got WAY less adventurous, she'd be too embarrassed to even suggest it now.

  • Paul.||

    It's called 'marriage'.

  • Paul.||

    My wife admits to blowing her way out of 2 tickets in her youth.

    See? That was back when there was a sense of honor and duty.

    It's all so very gone. My hat's off to your wife.

  • Bobarian||

    Ahhh...

    I don't believe I could ever kiss my wife, or even look her in the eyes ever again

  • ||

    NH does the same, at least for traffic tickets. I don't know about forfeitures.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Relatively speaking, the Commonwealth of Penn's Woods isn't all that bad. Sure, interstate roads drop to 55 MPH for no good reason, but for fighting tickets, it's doable. Show up to court and you get your fine reduced and less or no points assessed. (Although it may be worse the closer you get to Filthadelphia.)

  • albo||

    In Pennsylvania, only the state police can use radar. Local cops can't use anything electronic except VASCAR, which I don't think they even make anymore. Plus there's a 5 mph grace for radar and 10 mph for VASCAR.

    Just don't speed on the turnpike west of the twin tunnels at Blue Mountain.

  • Floridian||

    Waldo got some bad press for this so they took out a billboard saying they strictly enforce the speed limit to save lives. I think AAA had written them up as a speed trap to be avoided.

  • SugarFree||

    All fines must be paid to the victims of police abuse, 50% of which must be used to fund legal efforts to overturn sovereign immunity protections for individual officers.

    Problem solved.

  • ||

    5% of that goes to a special fund to buy tasers for the victims. The victims are then allowed to tase the abusive pigs in the balls for one hour per week.

  • ||

    Ohio state troopers are among the worst. It's your fault everyone drives at 65 one the highway, you fucks. It's your goddamn fault that no one knows how to merge and people think the middle lane is the slow lane. FUCK. YOU. ALL.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Our State Troopers are a real problem. It will be a cold day in hell before I let the legislature make them "State Police". Fuck them.

  • Libertymike||

    What the hell is the difference between being called "State Trooper" or "State Police"?

  • Bobarian||

    Some states, all the troopers do is traffic, pure and simple. Other, (generally more free) states use their force to do actual crime fighting kind of stuff.

    The California Highway Patrol is a perfect example of wasted resources and useless personnel.

  • KDN||

    Funny thing is I've always found driving through Ohio to be quite enjoyable. Flat land + cops in plain sight = pedal to the floor. Being from NJ, slow moving lane hogs are an expected annoyance and I simply pass them at first opportunity with extreme prejudice.

    I did blow by a local cop on 480 last week while doing about 90, but he was shooting radar on the other side of the road and up against his town's border. He grilled me something fierce but nothing became of it.

  • thom||

    The Ohio Turnpike is the only place I've ever seen real speed enforcement by aircraft. A few years ago I set my cruise 5mph over the limit and settled in for the trip. Every single car that passed me was pulled over. In almost every case the police car would come down the other side of the interstate, flip around in a pass-through, and then immediately pull somebody over.

  • AlgerHiss||

    Most folks have no idea that ticket writing is a billion dollar industry: And we’re weak sheep for putting up with this nonsense.

    Several years ago, The National Motorists Association overtook the old AAA as the driving public’s best friend. (AAA became nothing more than an insurance company agitating for more government at all levels.)

    NMA is a calm, respectable voice of reason that usually shines the truth on issues such as speed trapping, checkpoints, red light cameras, speed cameras and the like. Their site is:

    http://www.motorists.org/

    And no, I don’t work for them. But I am a dues paying member.

  • squarooticus||

    Sounds like the NRA vs. (say) the Second Amendment Foundation. The SAF is doing the real heavy lifting in favor of the rights of gun owners, while the NRA rakes in money with press whoring.

  • ||

    And NAGR - they're very aggressive and uncompromising.

  • ||

    I'm a member, too. They are very good.

  • ||

    We had a big problem with this in Louisiana. Lots of small towns living off of tickets. The worst was Washington just north of Opelouses. The town was not in sight of I-49, but they had gerrymandered a strip of unoccupied land over to the interstate and were giving out tickets like confetti.

    Because they were pulling that shit on a busy interstate they finally pissed off enough people that the law here got changed, a law that has been pushed but failed to pass for 20 years. If you are doing 9mph or less above the speed limit, the local jurisdiction can only keep $2 out of the fine. That shut that shit down overnight.

    Happy ending: Washington continued to keep the ticket money and continued writing tickets just as before.
    State Police looked into it and the Mayor and Chief of Police ended up in prison.

  • ||

    Hah there's a "town" (Shenadoah) north of Houston that has that set up. Somehow both sides of I-45 are part of the town even though it only occupies a small area on one side. They routinely give tickets on the feeder.

  • Finrod||

    From what I understand, Georgia used to be horrible about that kind of thing (Ray Stevens even wrote a song about it, Dudley Dorite Of The Highway Patrol), but then they passed a law that only state police can give you a ticket for 1-10 over.

    Didn't stop a guy I know from getting a ticket for going 11 over, though.

  • ||

    The Texas state government has done a decent job of cracking down on this but some podunk places can still be bad.

  • Anders||

    Los Angeles. When looking for a large black cop killer on the run they gave up the idea of a stop entirely...and shot up 2 asian women in a car.

    Because, sometimes you have to do shit like that for public safety.

    I bet they would have preferred a ticket but sometimes you gotta say it with lead.

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