Saturday, June 28, 2008

Speed Bumps

I've become interested in auto speeding ever since I got a ticket last month (not only the $150 Town of Brighton fine, but also the "responsible driver fee" of $300 tacked on by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the grasping wretches). Now this morning's paper reveals a new development.

In Philadelphia the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is testing fake speed bumps. They're optical illusions, pyramids painted on roads to look 3-D, sort of like real speed bumps. The illusionary ones cost from $60-80 each, while real speed bumps cost $1,000-1,500. The illusions do slow down traffic -- for about a month. Then everyone knows where and what they are and just rams over them.

Much better, I think, would be holographic speed bumps, emanating from a device embedded flat in the road. After people get used to them, just pry up the laser-projecting devices and put them on different stretches of street. In fact, why stop there? Holographic concrete barriers, old ladies crossing the street, entire police cruisers...We'll make everybody slow to a crawl! Stand totally still! Stay home and save wear and tear on the roads!

I'm mad at the DMV for that $300. I didn't speed through their building. The Town of Brighton, okay, I deserved the fine, but not the whopping DMV surcharge.


Tim of Angle said...

Well, don't live in New York. Duh.

They don't do that crap here in Texas -- if they did, some bureaucrat would get shot.

Kendall said...

Extra penalties like that are getting absurd; governments are deciding that this is easy money and the fees will likely spread to more and more jurisdictions (perhaps even to Texas, despite Tim's skepticism).

I like your holographic idea (or even the optical illusion one being tested), since speed bumps are bad for cars at almost any speed. But shoot, some people don't slow down much for real speed bumps. ;-)

Bill Dunning said...

I seem to recall reading about some states having even higher charges than that, especially for out-of-state speeders. I can't find the details now, but it was something about getting a ticket in another state, then a few months later getting a bill in the mail for $1000 or so as some kind of "out of state violator" fee. Yeah, it's getting absurd.

I also read recently that in some places speeders are now being hit with an extra surcharge to cover the cost of the gas used by the officer that caught them.

If there's one thing government is good at, it's finding more ways to squeeze more money out of people.

Nancy Kress said...

Tim-- Surely that "Duh" doesn't imply that a person should choose a state of residence based primarily on its DMV policies? Perhaps there are other considerations as well?

Mike said...

I've been lurking here for a while, but I had to comment on this. Three hundred dollars extra for a ticket? That's worse than the 'convenience' fees Ticketmaster charges. I live outside of Chicago, new home of highest sales tax, I'm surprised they don't do it here...yet.

I've heard of the virtual speed bumps, I could see how they would work for a short time. Much like the police cars with styrofoam officers in them to slow down cars.

Steven Francis Murphy said...

I think the best way to respond to ridiculous charges like that is with an act of civil disobedience.

Pay the fine and then find a piece of state property that matches the value of your fine.

Then destroy it. Light fixtures come to mind.

The only downside is that you don't want to get caught doing that. But if more people did that, maybe the nonsense with these fines would stop.

Then again, I like the idea of shooting the paper pushing puke. Texas sounds like my kind of state.

S. F. Murphy

g d townshende said...

I live in Maryland, but commute to Virginia for work. Virginia tried some silliness with their traffic fines not too long ago. The speeding fines were especially crazy, with tickets for driving 20+mph over the limit being at least $1000, if not more. What made it crazy, though, was that these fines applied to Virginia residents only. If I was caught speeding in Virginia (not too difficult to do since I work there, and since I do drive faster than the legal limit), then the regular fine schedule would apply.

Virginians were obviously (and understandably) enraged.

But why did the State of Virginia do this in the first place? Well, they apparently are terrible at budgeting for the maintenance of their roads, so they thought this would be a good way to pay for the maintenance. Since that was the purpose of the money, they reasoned, they couldn't legally impose those fines on non-residents.

There was a HUGE backlash against this stupidity, since it meant one fine for residents and another for non-residents, and the law has since been repealed.

I much prefer how Maryland police handle speeding... if you're driving safely, they don't seem to care. But if you're speeding AND weaving in and out of traffic, then you're done for. You'll be stopped in a heartbeat. I drive I-95 to work all the time, and here in Maryland the limit is 65mph. I've lost count how many times I've gone 80mph passed a cop sitting on the side of the road with a radar gun, and he's done nothing. Then again, everyone around me was going just as fast, if not a little slower... but we ALL were speeding. It's only when you get onto roads policed by the county police where you need to be more watchful of your speed here in Maryland, in my experience.

I much preferred it when the country used to follow the 80% Rule when determining the speeds on the nation's highways (back before the imposition of 55mph). Basically, they occasionally monitored the speed of the traffic on the roads, and the average speed of 80% of the people was used as the speed limit.

g d townshende said...

Your comment about the additional $300 reminds me, however, of when I moved to California, back in 1994. Back then, every car sold in the US had a sticker that said one of three different things. It said either that the car met US emission standards, that the car met US and California emission standards (these were on cars sold outside of California, but which had California emissions equipment installed), or that the car met California emission standards (put on cars sold in California). If your car's sticker did not have the word "California" on it, then you were required to pay an additional $300 to the State, even if your car PASSED the emissions test.

I had the great privilege of paying California that $300 fine until I sold my car and bought one that had been sold in their State... and now, as I said before, I live in Maryland, where they try damned hard to be "the California of the East Coast."

Tim of Angle said...

"Tim-- Surely that "Duh" doesn't imply that a person should choose a state of residence based primarily on its DMV policies? Perhaps there are other considerations as well?"

Indeed. That particular policy ought to be a not-too-subtle hint to review other similar policies, arising from the same statist mindset, that might suggest that New York is a suboptimal place to live.

I lived in New York for a couple of years after I got out of college, and Warren Buffet doesn't have enough money to persuade me to do that ever again.

And, judging by the way New York is losing population, a lot of other people feel the same way. What do they know that you don't?

I don't doubt that there are perceived advantages to living in New York. Just be aware that you have to take the bitter with the better -- and that there are alternatives.

Nancy Kress said...

I wasn't clear. The advantages to living in NY are personal -- my family and oldest friends are here, and not about to relocate en masse. Still, I can see your point. NY, getting desperate, has the highest property taxes in the country (you wouldn't believe mine), a high state incme tax, and a high sales tax. And if I lived in nYC (which I don't), those would be even higher.

Neal Holtschulte said...

I just recently got a speeding ticket on Calkins rd. for driving 51 mph in a 35 zone. The road was empty. I was driving safely. It was 9:30 am. According to the officer that pulled me over "the residents have been complaining about speeders."

What really chafes me is that I drive on this road not more than once per week, usually on Sunday, I never rev my engine or drive recklessly. I have never passed another car on this road. Writing me a citation is hardly serving the public good.

I am a young male and I was driving a red car while wearing sun glasses. Maybe it was profiling. I should sue. Lol.