Cut me some slack if you’ve heard this one before.

“There’s a two-word strategy to getting out of a speeding ticket.”

“Don’t speed.”

I thought of that old line a couple of times in the last couple of weeks when I made my way to Laurelton for the Union County West End Fair.

The Borough of Hartleton, which straddles the townships of Hartley and Lewis, apparently still has a reputation for rigorous speed enforcement.

If you’ve never driven there, the limit on westbound state highway goes from 55 mph to 35 mph in only a furlong or so. The limit is reduced where the highway is on a bit of a downhill grade.

The reduction is a little less egregious heading into town from the west. But if you’re not paying attention, you’ll be cruising at above the limit.

I haven’t seen a Hartleton officer in their usual perch, a spot across from an ice cream place, for months. Yet people still slow down to the limit all the same, sometimes less than that. A double-check this week verified that the borough, home to 250 souls, still had a police department.

The point here is that reputation goes a long way toward compliance. In this day and age, reputation can spread by old fashioned word of mouth or via computer.

Just for fun, I logged onto www.speedtrap.org.

It’s a website put up by an organization called the National Motorists Association (NMA). The NMA purports to advocate for North American motorists by working for more reasonable speed limits, privacy protection, better driver training and fair enforcement. They’re all for freedom and responsibility, but not ticket cameras, unfair taxes, revenue-motivated traffic courts, speed traps or “one size fits all” laws.

The site features links to attorneys with experience in traffic tickets, personal injury and DUI allegations. A click on a Union County link leads to the name, number and website of a Philadelphia-based attorney. The same guy pops up if you click on Snyder County. A disclaimer at the bottom says the NMA cannot guarantee that the lawyer you select will meet your expectations.

The site features a traffic law blog which looks like it gets added to regularly. Two new blog pieces were entered within this month, one written by a self-described motorcycle accident attorney, the other by a car accident attorney.

One entry noted a motorcycle rider is 26 times more likely to die in a crash than an auto driver. The other cautioned that serious repercussions loom for drivers who rent U-Haul trucks and intentionally get into crashes to claim insurance money.

But the big story at www.speedtrap.org is 80,000 user submitted entries claiming locations of speed traps nationwide and in Canada.

I first took a look years ago, as I was curious about what I’d find for Pennsylvania. I checked it out again this week after a couple of passes through Hartleton.

The site is not like I remembered. Instead of random remarks, posted like Facebook comments, I found descriptions of locations with options to vote on whether or not a given spot is a site of rigorous enforcement. I accidentally acknowledged that a place in Phillipsburg was such a speed trap. That may be a fact, except that I’ve never been there.

The most recent entry for Lewisburg is from 2010 and describes how Lewisburg police sit beside the old Bechtel’s restaurant in such a way that they are not visible until passed.

It got 15 votes affirming it as a speed trap, and three “definitely not a speed trap” votes. It’s hard to guess when the last vote was entered, but it is safe to say that there is no more Bechtel’s and Lewisburg police are now the BVRPD.

The other two spots, one on Route 15 and the other on South Third Street, were plausible as speed enforcement sites. But were they speed “traps” in the strictest sense? Hard to say, local police are not allowed to use radar for speed enforcement. Other methods, such as devices on the road, are more obvious than a radar beam.

My experience is that if a motorist is halfway observant, it’s possible to sense where police sit and wait. One tip from an attorney friend was to look for speed limit signs. If a driver claims they didn’t know the limit, the issuing officer may mention the fact that a sign indicating it was just passed.

Anyway, the information about Hartleton was just as old as what was entered for Lewisburg. The latest entry was from 2006 and basically claimed the entire length of the borough was a speed trap. Voters agreed with that assessment a total of 99 times. There was one “definitely not a speed trap” vote, but as before, it was tough to guesstimate when any of them were entered.

To sum it up, go easy out there whether you are passing through a notorious speed zone or not. Enjoy the experience of motoring while you can for autonomous vehicles are out of the concept stage and are on the horizon.

It’s only a matter of time.

FYI: Not all the speed trap reports were as old as the local ones. Some were from as recently as 2017.

Staff Writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at matt@standard-journal.com.

(2) comments

jcwconsult

Pennsylvania is one of the worst states for speed traps because so many main urban roads, highways and freeways have posted limits set less-safely and improperly at least 10 mph lower than the safest levels. This creates lucrative speed traps which are enforced for profits, NOT safety. Example: If the slowest 85% of the cars are at or below 45 mph on a multi-lane urban collector or arterial street - the safest limit to post for the fewest crashes is 45 mph, NOT lower. Posted at 35 or below as is far too common in Pennsylvania, this becomes a lucrative speed trap enforced for profits. The real "crime" is that the drivers who get "10 over" tickets for going 45 mph are the safest ones on the road, the ones with the least statistical chances to have a crash. These for-profit speed traps are a money grab racket that no one should tolerate for any reason.
James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

tom mccarey

Unless drivers fight against Senate Bill 172 by telling their Representative and Senator to VOTE NO, speed traps on steroids are coming to every road in Pennsylvania.
The straw men of “speeding crisis” and “work zone crisis” are the basis for the push to get speed cameras in Pennsylvania. There is neither a speeding crisis nor a work zone crisis. Unbiased studies show that Pennsylvania’s roads are the safest they have ever been. True statistics show that since 1970 less than 1 worker every two years has been killed in work zones by passing automobiles.

Only one reason the straw men are being trotted out by the Legislature in their promotion of speed cameras: For the ten$ of million$ of dollar$ speed cameras will unfairly steal from people who are driving at the safest speed. A 70 year old highway engineering principle called the 85th Percentile Speed* determines the safest speed. 90% of the limits in Pennsylvania are posted 8 to 16 miles per hour below the safest speed, turning people who drive the 85th Percentile Speed into criminals, and making it easy to write tickets. That’s how the camera boosters will make their money. Unfairly.

Highway safety studies, by groups with no financial incentives, conclude that speed cameras make the highways more dangerous. Yet, the Legislature believe the sales spiel from the camera makers, and are gung-ho to enact Speed Camera Bill SB 172, allowing speed cameras in Pennsylvania. How can our politicians put the financial well-being of the camera makers above the safety of the taxpayers?

All Pennsylvania governments are in desperate need of funds. Is that a reason to endanger drivers in this Commonwealth?

Your wallet and your life and limb are being put at grave risk by people you elected to prevent that. It’s time to tell every Senator and Representative to VOTE NO on Speed Trap Bill SB 172.

Tom McCarey Member, National Motorists Association
*The speed that 85% of drivers travel on a given stretch of road.​

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