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Is RADAR for safety or revenue?

By Tom McCarey Member, National Motorists Association

Giving RADAR to municipal police will result in an epidemic of speed traps. Speed limits are not set using highway safety engineering standards. Instead, they are set by local bureaucrats who use their feelings to set speed limits. They think they are so smart that they know which speed is the safest.

In their wisdom, 90% of the time the bureaucrats post limits 8 to 16 mph below prevailing speeds [FHwA data]. The result of this is that in driving 90% of our roads you are automatically “speeding” and liable for a $170+ ticket plus points that will increase the cost of your insurance.

The proper way to set a speed limit is to do a traffic study to determine the prevailing speed of the free flow of vehicles. The prevailing speed is called the 85th Percentile Speed, the safest speed with the most compliance, a highway safety engineering concept that has been proven effective for 70 years. Posting 85th Percentile Speeds results in less speed differential smoothing the flow of traffic, reducing accidents and injuries.

The RADAR lobby doesn’t want you to know that. RADAR promoters are working feverishly to arm municipal police with RADAR guns. The result will be the unfair taking of scores of millions of dollars from drivers who are driving safely and harming no one.

The Gettysburg Borough Council should not call for RADAR for municipal police.

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  • Perhaps a representative of the National Motorists Association (NMA) would like to sit in the audience at a Gettysburg Borough Council meeting where residents have taken the time to appear and provide public comment about the speeding cars in their neighborhoods. It is easy to accuse local governments of trying to raise revenue by using radar as a tool. The comment by the NMA implies that local governments purposely adjust the speed limits lower than necessary “90% of the time the bureaucrats post limits 8 to 16 mph below prevailing speeds”. Within an urban setting like the borough, there are more considerations than whether vehicles can move at an optimum speed. There are pedestrians, including children walking to school, people entering/exiting parked vehicles, and crossing streets. There are local drivers observing the speed limit while going about their daily business, which conflicts with those trying to commute to US15 via residential streets, or to avoid traffic lights or the Square. There are both state and local roads in Gettysburg. There are state roads leading into Gettysburg where the speed has been set at 25 mph due to the presence of tourists along the road. It’s not all about the cars and their optimum rate of speed. Gettysburg police need additional tools to monitor what has been a long-term issue for citizens, and their elected officials are trying to solve the problem. If the NMA has some constructive alternative enforcement suggestions, maybe they would be willing to provide them.

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