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All About Speeding
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All About Speeding

State speed limits

Let's face it, we all exceed the speed limit at one time or another and some of us practice it as a religion. A recent study found that between 88 percent and 96 percent of motorists exceed the posted speed limit on interstate highways in the states that still have it. Since you are reading this booklet on speeding tickets you either already have one in hand or you are just trying to avoid one in the future. This booklet places the emphasis on trying to get out of the ticket before you even get one since this is the easiest method of beating one in the first place. I am not a lawyer and I won't go into too much detail about fighting tickets in court other than just giving you some common defense tactics that an attorney would argue on your behalf.

Most states immediately changed their interstate rural speed limits from 55 mph to 70 mph after the federal government allowed states to do so in 1987. The states that still have the 55 mph limit are all concentrated in the northeast with the exception of one. The states are New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Hawaii. I wonder if the northeast states keep this speed limit so they don't have to fix all those damn potholes in the roads which keep the local car repair shops in business. Pretty much everybody will agree that there should be some type of speed limit but it would be very hard to get them to agree on what it should be. Here are some statistics that may be of interest to you:

Police point of view

What you may not hear from states often are the statistics of how many police officers are killed or injured in the line of duty handing out speeding tickets. The numbers come from various sources but they indicate that 20% of all police officers killed in the line of duty are killed while giving out traffic tickets. Of course there are more reasons to get a ticket other than speeding but the interstate highways are where most of these accidents occur. There also is the issue that there is so much more bizarre crime going on than in the past that catching speeders is a waste of manpower and resources.

Insurance company point of view

The insurance companies have always protested raising the rural speed limits from 55 mph to 65 mph since it is a huge loss of revenue. Car and Driver columnist Barry Winfield stated in an article that insurance companies "benefit from unrealistically low speed limits and the resultant high rate of speeding infractions." The smokescreen is that more injuries and deaths will result by raising the speed limit an additional 10 mph causing more claims but real story is that they can get more dollars from safe drivers. Driving 10 mph more than you used to does not mean you are less safe, it just means that you are now legal and the insurance companies do not get to charge you more money. They often cite the increase in highway injuries and deaths since the 1987 ruling from the federal government but they leave out numbers like the increasing number of drivers from one year to the next.

Local Speed Limits

If you are traveling 30mph in a 20mph zone you are going 10 mph above the speed limit and you are going to get a ticket and rightfully so. These areas are usually heavily congested traffic areas so right off the bat you will be dealing with some irate small town cop, but even so you may be able to get out of one of these (See: Getting caught). There is simply no advantage to speeding in local areas as far as a time savings benefit is concerned. The best place to speed is on the interstate highways knowing that if you are traveling at the posted speed limit most people consider you a hazard to public safety and should immediately be thrown in jail. One can justify the risk of getting a ticket on an interstate highway but not in a school zone at 3pm on a Friday.

How Fast ?

While you are cruising along the highway pick your desired speed of travel and stick to it. Using the cruise control if your vehicle is equipped, will help greatly. By this I mean if the speed limit is posted 55 MPH you can probably drive up to 65-69 MPH without being noticed on an interstate highway. The reason I say 69 mph because it is less than 15 miles over the limit and fines and insurance premiums sky rocket if you get a ticket at or above this limit. After picking your desired speed you will notice how many people will be flying by you who you will soon be using as shields. It is important to set yourself a speed limit that you are comfortable with and since you always know how fast you are traveling and that will also help you in court if the need arises.

All police officers on interstate highways have a tolerance of how much you can exceed the speed limit and not get pulled over. I wish I could give you that number but there is no exact number to give since it is up to each individual cop to decide. A cop will most likely have different tolerances depending on time of day, weather, traffic density and more. A safe tolerance number is 5 miles an hour over the limit, you will not be ticketed for traveling 60 mph in 55 mph zone or 70 mph in a 65 mph zone. Average tolerance is 10 mph and a tolerance of more than 15 is unheard of. If it is an especially heavy traffic day a state trooper could not possibly handle all the speeders so he/she will simply increase their tolerance to adjust for the increased traffic. In the states where 65 mph is the legal limit I would not recommend any speed over mph which is a comfortable driving speed and within most tolerances according to the cops I interviewed. In these states it is not uncommon to be passed by some idiot doing 90 mph, cellular phone in hand, and if that is you, you deserve a ticket and this manual won't help you (as much).

Needless to say, if you are breaking the law you should be observant about your surroundings. Most situations that will result in you getting a speeding ticket could have been avoided in the first place by being alert. The initial speeding violation may also open you up to other tickets that you may not even be aware of such as expired inspections and registrations and seat belt use, or lack thereof. Pilots are trained to scan the skies for other aircraft at all times and spend a great deal of time with their eyes outside the cockpit using the "See and Avoid" method. Below are some ways to scan the surroundings to avoid being spotted and even getting clocked on the radar:

Opposite direction of travel

One of the easiest and most reliable cop detectors available is oncoming cars flashing their headlights. This signal indicates either a roadblock, a cop sitting on the median, or a cop with someone pulled over up ahead issuing a ticket. Headlight signaling has been reliable but the problem is that only about 10% of the drivers will extend this courtesy to you and then for only about a mile or two down the road. On heavily traveled days this can be very dependable especially on interstate highways so always keep an eye out for the flashing of headlights day or night.

Same direction of travel

Here you will be looking not for headlights but for brake lights. There is little need to tap your brakes on an interstate highway on even the busiest days so if you see a car or cars ahead of yours brake lights come on for no observable reason, the driver is probably hitting the brakes from instinct after seeing a cop. Also keep your eyes glancing towards the rear view mirror periodically to watch out for cops coming up from behind and surprising you

Cop with a driver pulled over

Don't worry about the cop with someone pulled over ahead because unless you are dangerously exceeding the limit they will not stop writing a ticket to give you one. There is a myth out there that when you see a cop on the side of the road with a customer there will probably be no more cops on that stretch of road for the next 20-30 miles. This can be true and I have noticed this but I have also noticed cops working in pairs so don't rely on this too much.

The median

The median, or the mall as some call it, is where you usually find the cops hanging around waiting to catch speeders. The best spot on the median is the No U Turn crossover and this is where you will find the cops 85% of the time while traveling on interstate highways. The No U Turn signs indicate that there is a crossover coming up and if you see a No U Turn sign coming around a turn beware since that is one of the favorite spot. They will also set up shop in the median where there is no official crossover ,such as set back into some trees somewhere.

It is important to notice the construction of the median especially if you travel the same highway often. Notice where the cross over points are that a cop could use if they are going the opposite direction and decide to come get you. There are some situations where there is no median other that a concrete barrier and this is almost a license to speed since they can't hide there or turn around for quite some time.

Under the overpass

Another favorite spot is under bridges or an overpass and this especially true on hot summer days since the shade is the place to be. There are no signs to indicate an overpass is coming up so your best indicators are visual and your speeding tools.


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Susan & Michael Jolley
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Ontario CA, 91761
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Fax 909-947-6199
Cell 909-376-8966


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