Say you’re speeding down the I-95, going the same speed as the sign itself, and suddenly you spot the fuzz lurking beneath an underpass, radar gun at the ready, and moving citation on standby. Even with the world’s most advanced modern automotive gadgets and a cautious set of peepers, the rate of drivers that get caught speeding continues to rise, which means either cops are getting craftier, or people aren’t learning from experience.
A recent report shows that in the U.S. alone about 41 million people get ticketed for speeding each year, which roughly translates to around 112,000 citations per day. After analyzing over 15 years’ worth of speeding violation data from The National Speed Trap Exchange — a site run by the National Motorist Association — we found some pretty interesting statistics and correlations that are worth knowing as well.
The study looked at all kinds of speeding related topics, even going as far as analyzing keywords in order to better determine speed trap locations. Once ticketed, the most commonly used phrase by drivers was “side of the road,” which had 133 more mentions than the next term.
It also revealed that certain states and municipalities have more speed traps than others. If things like violent crime and drug trafficking aren’t commonplace, the local authorities will often utilize their resources for various other forms of law enforcement, and in many instances, that includes traffic enforcement and moving violations.
A quick review of the map above reveals that certain states rely on speed traps more than others, and while a few states in the Midwest and out West are relatively free of this form of enforcement, states like Vermont were loaded with traffic stops. Averaging around 52 speed traps per 100,000 residents, the Green Mountain State has over five times the speed trap instances of Alaska, which is the least trap-laden state.
A lot of this has to do with a recent state-wide push to reduce speed-related fatalities in Vermont, as it participates in both state-specific and regional crackdown initiatives. According to the study, other states that sport lots of sneaky police are New Hampshire, Michigan, Delaware, and Oklahoma, all of which made the top 10 list for speed trap prevalence.
So if you’re curious about what kind of enforcement you’ll likely see in your state, check out this nifty drop-down menu. It allows drivers to see which cities in their area are prone to numerous speed traps, so take note and drive slow because tickets aren’t cheap and speeding can kill.
On the flip side, Alaska sports fewer than 10 speed traps per 100,000 people, exacerbated by the fact that Anchorage has a seriously understaffed police force. North and South Dakota, and Montana as well, remained sparse in the trap department, undoubtedly due to all of the long straights of boring blacktop with no pedestrians around to injure.
Coincidentally, drivers themselves are more at risk in those states, as all three ranked in the national top 10 for car crash fatalities, with an IIHS report showing that speed continues to be a factor in just over a quarter of all traffic deaths.
But even if your state doesn’t rank all that high for speed traps or fatalities, there’s a good chance you live near a city that’s prone to having people pulled over. A number of cities located in Florida, Michigan, Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Ohio all made the top 10 for highest concentrations of speed traps, with Sarasota, Florida sporting the most speed traps of all, with an average of 140 traps per 100,000 residents.
Dearborn Heights, Michigan took second place in this category, and Coppell, Texas came in third for most trap-heavy city, and even the 20th city on the list (St. Clair Shores, Mich.) had a staggering 78 speed traps per 100,000 residents. So if you plan on taking a road trip anytime soon, keep an eye on that speedometer, set your cruise control, and file this list away for future reference.
Naturally, speed traps aren’t always located in set places within a particular city or a state, as many law enforcement officials strategically place themselves in certain spots in order to remain undetected, while still having easy access to the open highway. So be sure to check out the chart above, as it highlights the top spots in the U.S for encountering speed traps.
Speed traps are a controversial form of enforcement, and even though government officials continue to claim that they increase road safety, opponents say it’s just one more way for states and municipalities to generate funds.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has its own take on speeding: It says that out of 10 drivers, three of them are habitual speeders, an issue considering that in 2014, over half of all speeding-related fatalities occurred on roads with speed limits under 55 miles per hour. So regardless of whether you’re late, have an emergency, or aren’t paying attention, be careful out there. Just because you are in control doesn’t mean those around you are.