Allowing local police to use radar will make our communities safer

Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that does not allow local police departments to use radar for the purpose of speed enforcement. In 2009 Pennsylvania suffered 32,669 speed-related car crashes, 538 of them fatal. According to the PennDOT Crash Facts & Statistics Report, these crash and fatality rates are higher than PAʼs rates of alcohol, careless, and distracted driver accidents combined.

HB 1041 and SB 526, both introduced this session, are similar bills that would allow accredited local police departments to use radar in speed enforcement.

Every year hundreds of motorists are killed in speeding-related accidents. Radar is a proven, effective law enforcement tool to stop drivers jeopardizing othersʼ safety by disobeying speed limits. By keeping these tools out of the hands of local police departments, law enforcement offices are limited in the tools that they have available to promote safe streets.

HB 1041 and SB 526 will make our communities safer by empowering local police departments to use a tool the Pennsylvania State Police have been using effectively since 1961. These bills will improve the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and all others interacting with roadways patrolled by local police enforcement agencies.

 

Attachments

  1. Municipal Police RADAR (116.4 KiB)
    downloadable pdf version of this fact sheet

13 Responses to Allowing local police to use radar will make our communities safer

  1. sal says:

    I agree 110%….allowing municipal police to use radar will make the communities much safer. speeding is dangerous, but it is clearly more dangerous in residential communities than on limited access highways. people complain that allowing local cops to use radar is a money grabber for the towns, but that is very untrue. most traffic fines are $25…but add all the state’s costs (mcare, jnet, magistrate costs) the typical ticket is around $100. Speeing tickets vary by speed driven and the base fine is more than $25. so say someone is going 20mph over the speed limit. the total fine may be $150. The actual speeing fine may only be $60, but with all the states costs added, the total goes up to $150. So how much does the town get???? half of the infraction fine. so half of $60 is $30…that is what the town would get. but don’t forget, the officer is not out on patrol for free….he is getting paid. and if someone fights a ticket the officer is not at court for free. so where is the town making money????they car losing money. and for any doubting thomases out there, if local cops get radar, if you don’t speed, you won’t have to worry about getting a ticket.

  2. bill craig says:

    Why not -revenue raising cops will be in their glory. It stinks…and radar guns cause cancer imo, like cell phones are suspected of. People drive, some die, thats life…grow up

  3. sal says:

    Worried about cops increasing revenue but concerned for safety of persons….why don’t the illustrious lawmakers decrease the fines but raise the points for speeding.

  4. YF says:

    This is a bad idea, just another toy to be used to badger people. Instead, have the police focus on the more heinous crimes being committed within their respective jurisdiction to ensure for the protection of their citizens. And, if it is found that they have a number of officers with little to do since crime is low, consider reducing the force number to match the crime statistics of the jurisdiction and give the taxpayers a break. After all, when was the police department given the additional mission of raising funds? How about running a lean municipality, focused on the good of its citizens, and then charge them for the service through fair taxation – not a penny more? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we have a police force in place to protect and serve its citizens, but don’t think we need to provide them with more toys to justify a bogus existence (i.e. writing traffic tickets all day) and to bilk more money out of its citizens.

  5. Joe Public says:

    I’m not sure where most of you posters live, but here in the Stroudsburg Area Regional Police Department, covering three communities and 39 square miles with 49 officers. Only a fraction of them — 5 — are out on patrol at any given time. Traditional speed testing methods require two officers/vehicles, all but eliminating any possible hope of deploying speed checks. Radar would allow any of the 5 active officers to alternate patrol with stationed speed checks, at can respond to a call immediately with no breakdown of equipment. While there are worse crimes than speeding, speeding is extremely rampant here — drag racing on collector streets, speeding in residential neighborhoods, etc. I grew up in norther New Jersey and respect for the posted speed limit was ingrained: ignore it and don’t be surprised if you see flashing lights behind you. As far as the “grace” area, well there would be PLENTY of folks doing 10, 15, even 25 miles over the posted limit here, so I have no concerns about people getting ticked for 3 mph over the limit. The police need to be reasonable too.

  6. JP says:

    Pennsylvania Vehicle Code requires that only vehicles traveling in excess of 10 miles per hour over the speed limit can be cited by municipal police. Should that remain the same, there is no reason why anyone going reasonably near the speed limit should be concerned about this bill. It’s ludicrous to give police the authority to run speed by means of a stopwatch but not allow for new, safer, and more precise ways to measure speed. Give me a break.

  7. RJ says:

    The Vehicle Code, section 3368(a)(4) states that no person can be stopped or charged for speeding unless the recorded speed of the device (a radar gun or ENRADD) is at least 6 MPH in excess of the posted limit. It also states that any other method used to charge for speeding must have a reading of at least 10 MPH over the posted speed limit (construction zones and “highway safety corridors” are excepted).

    The Vehicle Code also regulates the fine for speeding. Section 3362(c) generally states that the base fine is $35, and once the speed is exceeded by six or more miles-per-hour over the posted limit, an extra $2 is added on for each additional mile (basically, 1-5 MPH over the speed limit is $35, 6 MPH over is $37, 7 over is $39, and so on). Anything extra on a traffic ticket is not considered the fine, it is an add-on fee.

    In the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, title 42, section 3573(b), states that, if a local cop writes a traffic ticket, then one-half of the fine goes to the municipal government, everything else goes to the state (section 3571(b) states that if a state trooper writes the ticket, all of the money goes to the state).

    Realistically, I don’t see how this is a “money maker” for a local cop to use a radar gun. Even if you get tagged speeding 25 MPH over the speed limit, the actual fine is $75, so the local government would only get $32.50, everything else that you would pay would go to the state. If you factor in the cops salary, benefits, fuel costs, insurance costs, and everything else that goes into running the department and putting that cop on the street, I’m sure that the locale spends a lot more than what they get back.

    I’m in favor of this. If excessive speeding is such a factor in so many accidents, then why not give the police the tools that they need to do their job more effectively? Seriously, you don’t go to your doctor and tell him what he should use to treat your conditions. And you don’t tell a carpenter that he can’t use a hammer when he’s making you something. Why is it ok to tell a cop what tools he can and can’t use to do his job better?

  8. LinuxGuy says:

    Speed limits/local radar

    Best-practice engineering dictates that speed limits be set to the 85th percentile free-flowing traffic speed and a reasonable speed cushion by allowed. By not doing this, PennDot is creating tailgating, clusters of cars, repeated passing, rapid lane changes, road rage, cruising the passing lane, rapidly approaching the car in front of you, etc. The type of road should have little to no bearing on the procedure used to set the speed limit. I worked for an ENR500 engineering firm and know about this material. I saw what happens when you have a road designed for 75 mph and it is posted at 55 mph. A total disaster safety-wise.

    The editorial promoting municipal police radar usage is way off-base. The bills in question do not require speed limits be set to the 85th percentile free-flowing traffic speed, which is an engineering standard. They also do not require a decent cushion over the limit before ticketing begins. Setting speed limits too low, which is the status quo in PA, has been shown to be a safety hazard. This has been known since 1964 with the Solomon Curve. The federal FHWA-RD-084 shows that speed limits have little impact upon how fast people drive anyway. Also, when you enforce these low limits, you can expect still more crashes. You create a huge variance in traffic speeds.

    The notion that Pennsylvania has widespread carnage due to speeding is inaccurate. We have many two-lane roads in rural areas. There are seldom crashes, but they could be more severe when they happen.

    We have a war on drivers in Pennsylvania. The legislature wants red-light cameras, speed cameras, stop-arm cameras, and municipal radar. All these will surely lead to more crashes and safe drivers ticketed. All the while, we will be using poor engineering and predatory enforcement. Real problems will never be corrected.

    The people supporting the above devices either are willfully ignorant of facts or have a financial interest in them being used. States with proper engineering and sane enforcement are the safest. We need a ban on all of the above. Around 60 California cities have banned the cameras the assembly is forcing upon us. Check out the National Motorists Association and read real facts for yourself.

  9. Mike says:

    Rates of automobile fatalities are the lowest they’ve been in decades, yet people are ever more paranoid about it and eager to hand over more of their rights to the state and more power to the police to harass them. Tell me, can you think of a serious accident where the investigators wouldn’t say that “speed was a factor”? The police, PennDOT, and the insurance companies all have a public relations and a monetary interest in blaming the driver for reckless behavior rather than admitting problems with road construction, signage, and enforcement.

    People drive at the speed at which they feel comfortable and safe, regardless of the set speed limit. We have seen this demonstrated in study after study for decades. Speed limits are supposed to be set at the 85th percentile, yet they are routinely set far lower. This is a revenue-collection scheme, and nothing more.

    “Joe Public” above says that existing speed-detection methods require two policemen and two vehicles, but that’s baloney. I have been ticketed before for speeding by a lone municipal cop, and he had no need of a second officer or police car to work his sneaky bottom-of-the-hill speedtrap. (Incidentally, I fought the ticket and won – it always pays to fight.)

    And if speeding is a much more significant factor in fatal road accidents than drunk, careless, and distracted driving, then why are the police wasting time and money in “anti-aggressive driving” patrols and Soviet-style checkpoints?

  10. Charles says:

    The radar in motorcycles are used to detect if the police or the traffic department is inspecting the speed or other aspects of a motorcycle.

  11. Mike I. says:

    Unfortunately, numerous PA local governments (of which there are far too many) have put revenue ahead of public safety when it comes to traffic enforcement and establishing arbitrary speed limits to enable such.

    Instead of hiding in the bushes with a radar gun, Police should be visibly enforcing red light runners, drunk drivers, etc.

    This bill be amended to read that R.A.D.A.R. speed enforcement can only be used on public highways where the speed limit is set in accordance with the 85th percentile rule, excluding those freeways posted at 70 mph. In addition, the law regarding when police can issue a speeding violation should be maintained. Studies have shown that by and large, the more efficient method of slowing motorists down are the signs that flash the speed at the motorist and flash white when the speed is 10 mph or more over the limit. They are more effective than the police hiding in the bushes.

  12. Tom McCarey says:

    RADAR should be banned in Pennsylvania. There is no epidemic crisis of speeding, only an epidemic crisis of highway engineering malpractice allied with and abetted by politicians seeking more and more money from safe drivers.

    Speed is a cause of accidents 5% of the time, according to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) [DOT HS 811 059 National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey]. Speed as a cause of accidents when traffic is free flowing is a rare event, yet this is when the majority of citations are written. Speed traps are staged where it is safe to drive faster to make it easy for the cops to write tickets.

    Yet, 50 years of government propaganda and misinformation about highway safety makes it easy for our elected servants to declare that unless we give local police radar guns, everybody’s going to die! And far too many otherwise reasonable people agree, so in the end, the special interests who profit from RADAR, the RADAR manufacturers, the politicians, the police, and the courts, get their go-ahead to unfairly tax drivers.

    Posted speed limits are at the bottom of all of this. What is the safe speed and who decides? If it were up to the politicians, we’d be driving cars that could only 20 miles per hour, and that would suit the do-gooders just fine. The core tenet of reasonable traffic laws, safety and due process is that the super majority of people act in a safe and responsible manner, and they do drive safely for the conditions present. An engineering concept known as the 85th
    percentile very simply says that 85 out of 100 motor vehicles will normally travel at or below a speed which is reasonable and prudent. It is the safest speed with the most compliance. But that makes the job of the police, that is, to collect taxes for the government, very difficult indeed.

    The Federal Highway Safety Administration (FHwA) found that 90% of the time speed limits are posted 8 to 16 miles per hour too slow [Report No. FHWA-RD-92-084 Effects of Raising and Lowering Speed Limits] . Because politicians respond to complaints from uninformed and misled constituants about “speeders” they push for arming all police state-wide with RADAR guns, while keeping limits too low and withholding NHTSA and FHwA statistics showing that there is no crisis.

    Arbitrarily, unrealistic speed zones cannot be expected to reduce accidents and may, in fact, adversely affect traffic safety by confusing drivers and increasing speed differentials. Hunting down drivers with RADAR guns will not improve highway safety, and the unfair and unnecessary enforcement of too-low limits will foster contempt for law enforcement. Money is the one and only reason for RADAR. Call your representative and your senator and tell them to stop the nonsense and ban radar in Pennsylvania. Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Tom McCarey

    tom_mccarey@rynbox.com

  13. Tom McCarey says:

    RADAR should be banned in Pennsylvania. There is no epidemic crisis of speeding, only an epidemic crisis of highway engineering malpractice allied with and abetted by politicians seeking more and more money from safe drivers.

    Speed is a cause of accidents 5% of the time, according to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) [DOT HS 811 059 National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey]. Speed as a cause of accidents when traffic is free flowing is a rare event, yet this is when the majority of citations are written. Speed traps are staged where it is safe to drive faster to make it easy for the cops to write tickets.

    Yet, 50 years of government propaganda and misinformation about highway safety makes it easy for our elected servants to declare that unless we give local police radar guns, everybody’s going to die! And far too many otherwise reasonable people agree, so in the end, the special interests who profit from RADAR, the RADAR manufacturers, the politicians, the police, and the courts, get their go-ahead to unfairly tax drivers.

    Posted speed limits are at the bottom of all of this. What is the safe speed and who decides? If it were up to the politicians, we’d be driving cars that could only 20 miles per hour, and that would suit the do-gooders just fine. The core tenet of reasonable traffic laws, safety and due process is that the super majority of people act in a safe and responsible manner, and they do drive safely for the conditions present. An engineering concept known as the 85th
    percentile very simply says that 85 out of 100 motor vehicles will normally travel at or below a speed which is reasonable and prudent. It is the safest speed with the most compliance. But that makes the job of the police, that is, to collect taxes for the government, very difficult indeed.

    The Federal Highway Safety Administration (FHwA) found that 90% of the time speed limits are posted 8 to 16 miles per hour too slow [Report No. FHWA-RD-92-084 Effects of Raising and Lowering Speed Limits] . Because politicians respond to complaints from uninformed and misled constituants about “speeders” they push for arming all police state-wide with RADAR guns, while keeping limits too low and withholding NHTSA and FHwA statistics showing that there is no crisis.

    Arbitrarily, unrealistic speed zones cannot be expected to reduce accidents and may, in fact, adversely affect traffic safety by confusing drivers and increasing speed differentials. Hunting down drivers with RADAR guns will not improve highway safety, and the unfair and unnecessary enforcement of too-low limits will foster contempt for law enforcement. Money is the one and only reason for RADAR. Call your representative and your senator and tell them to stop the nonsense and ban radar in Pennsylvania. Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Tom McCarey

    tom_mccarey@runbox.com

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