Increase in Speeding Tickets: Safety Issue or Revenue Grab?
Posted on October 4th, 2012 by Zane Cagle
If you’ve driven along Interstate 70 through Normandy, a municipality in north St. Louis County, it’s a familiar sight: a driver pulled over on the shoulder, being issued a speeding ticket. Perhaps you’ve even been one of the unfortunate people ticketed. This increase in traffic enforcement is ostensibly done in the name of safety, but some critics argue it is done solely in the name of increased revenue. Normandy expects to take in an extra $250,000 in 2012-2013 through increased speed enforcement, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The total budget for the year is $3.64 million, meaning these traffic tickets will account for over 14% of the municipality’s total revenue. With such reliance upon traffic tickets to close budget gaps, it is easy to see how people might be skeptical of the city’s good intentions.
These tickets parallel the debate over the effectiveness of using speeding cameras to enforce traffic laws. One of their most outspoken critics is the St. Louis County Police Chief. He argues, as do many motorists, that these are nothing more than revenue generators that have little to nothing to do with public safety. The Police Chief has urged lawmakers in St. Louis County to put an initiative on the ballot asking voters to ban these cameras. These cameras bring with them a powerful lobby, however, that is expected to fight to keep such an initiative off the ballot. And considering the number of municipalities that have grown accustomed to this revenue, it will be difficult to completely ban these camera.
Critics, however, point to the municipality of Charlack as a good example of how these cameras can be abused. In 2010, the tiny municipality set up a camera on the Lackland Road overpass over Interstate 170, used to catch speeders on the quarter-mile stretch of highway that runs through the municipality. That usage, however, was based upon the condition that a manned police vehicle be there to monitor the camera when issuing tickets. Just months after the camera was put in place, it was found that the municipality was skirting the rules and parking an unmanned vehicle by the camera. Amid public outcry, the camera was removed in 2011.
At The Cagle Law Firm, we respect any measures taken to help ensure the safety of motorists; however,safety measures should not undermine police or law enforcement. When traffic tickets are used solely as a means of generating revenue, people can begin to distrust the police or begin to question their motives. Police should be free to do their job as they see fit, not be required to give out a quota of tickets in order to meet revenue expectations. If a city needs more revenue than they are currently collecting, they should raise taxes or find other means of collection. Citizens have the right to know precisely why lawmakers are doing what they are doing. Cloaking a revenue grab as “public safety” does nothing but undermine the idea of public safety. As Missouri car accident attorneys, we believe safety should always come before revenue.
Speeding cameras or not, injuries will still happen from reckless drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured through the carelessness or negligence of another driver, you need an attorney with the knowledge, experience, and tenacity to make you whole. Zane T. Cagle and the Missouri car accident attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm possess just those qualities. Whether you’ve suffered broken bones, a traumatic brain injury, or even a wrongful death, our Missouri injury attorneys are here to help. For a free consultation with our Missouri car accident attorneys, call 1.800.85.3302 today.