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Texas Auto Insurance: Speed Traps and Your Safety

By Insurance.com Posted : 02/19/2007

A speeding ticket will raise your car insurance rates by as much, on average, from 11 to 15 percent. And yet no one is perfect, and sometimes you wind up with an officer approaching your car window, ticket book in hand. But what if you were caught in a speed trap?
Just the 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 Texas, 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 Texas municipalities generate additional, non-tax revenues to pay for equipment and salaries. The hallmarks of such a speed trap may include:

  • 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 Texas. 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, Texas has almost 2,000 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 Texas Legislature passed a law capping the amounts that municipalities under 5,000 residents can collect from traffic law violations. The law also requires allows the state comptroller to audit such municipalities that generate over 20 percent of their revenues from traffic citations.

Regardless of such laws, it remains the clear obligation of every Texas 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 Texas is to follow the letter of the law by making sure you:

  • Familiarize yourself with Texas 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 Texas traffic laws, please visit the Texas Department of Safety website.

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