Michigan Auto Insurance: Speed Traps, Safety and You

By Insurance.com Posted : 02/19/2007

The speed trap. Mere mention of this law enforcement technique causes many a heart rate to increase and a lead foot to cringe. After all, we all know we're not supposed to speed but do the police have to be so sneaky to catch speeders?

In Michigan, the answer depends on who you ask.

According to the National Motorists Association (NMA), a non-profit political interest group, many consumers are concerned that speed traps are a dubious means by which Michigan municipalities generate additional, non-tax revenues to pay for equipment and salaries. The hallmarks of such a speed trap may include:

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  • Abrupt speed limit changes
  • Absurdly low speed limits
  • Confusing signage
  • Abrupt changes in terrain
  • A disproportionate number of tickets issued to non-local residents

According to the NMA, speed traps may actually decrease public safety by:

  • Causing motorists to decelerate unexpectedly
  • Adding to gridlock during high-volume traffic hours
  • Reducing the reasonable flow of traffic based on prevailing road and weather conditions

Because fines from speeding tickets effectively lower local taxes, local residents have little incentive to question the wisdom or legality of speed traps in Michigan. For that reason, the NMA established The Speed Trap Exchange, a volunteer-driven website that documents the location and nature of speed traps nationwide. According to the Exchange, Michigan has over 1,000 documented speed traps—with more being identified every day.

To combat the problem of overzealous municipalities turning speed traps into an endless revenue source, the Michigan Legislature outlawed speed traps as defined by statute. A ticket issued via an illegal speed trap is, therefore, invalid in Michigan—but it remains the obligation of the motorist to prove that an illegal speed trap was used.

Regardless of such laws, it remains the clear obligation of every Michigan driver to obey posted speed limits and other state laws regulating the speed of vehicles in relation to emergency vehicles and accident scenes. The best bet to avoid a speeding ticket in Michigan is to follow the letter of the law by making sure you:

  • Familiarize yourself with Michigan state speed limits
  • Obey all posted speed limits in construction and high-traffic zones
  • Slow to reasonable speeds when approaching accident scenes
  • Slow to reasonable speeds and move to the opposite lane when passing a stopped police cruiser

For more information on Michigan traffic laws, please visit the Michigan Office of Traffic Safety website at http://www.michigan.gov/msp.

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