When lead-footed drivers get snagged and ticketed, their downfall might have been passing a speed trap where a cop was using radar or a laser, or maybe the driver passed a speed camera. However, as technology improves traffic enforcement, it is also progressing on the side of the speeder. Now joining the radar detector is crowd-sourced reporting of speed traps, a virtual warning system using the Internet and a mobile app.
This list of the 10 most-active cities for speed traps was compiled by Trapster.com, a community platform accessed online and via smartphone app, that alerts drivers to traps, hazards and other traffic issues nearby.
Trapster’s list is drawn from the reports of its base of nearly 15 million users. In addition to speed traps and enforcement cameras, “activity” can include road hazards, traffic, school zones, construction zones and locations of roadkill. However, Sean Farrell, product manager for Trapster, says that over 50 percent of the activity reported on Trapster are "live police” speed traps. For each of the following 10 most-active cities, Trapster users entered 3,000 to 4,000 reports in a recent 30-day period.
By Colleen Kane
Posted 10 February, 2012
Note: These slides are taken from Trapster's TrapMap, and symbols indicate red-light cameras, fixed-speed cameras, and known enforcement points.
Law enforcement in the capital of Texas has a reputation for handing out speeding tickets to motorists only one to three miles per hour over the posted limits, says Farrell. “Trapster users have posted on Trapster’s Facebook page that many speed limits drop quickly, and happen to have heavy police ‘speed enforcement’ in those areas.”
Colorado Springs uses a lot of unmarked police cars that will try to blend into traffic to catch unsuspecting motorists, says Farrell.
“Chicago has the MOST red light cameras, more than any other U.S. city,” Farrell says, although according to the GPS community website POI Factory, which maintains an updated list of red light and speed cameras, Chicago is number two in the country, with a whopping 418 traffic–enforcement cameras in its metro area.
In Orlando, home of Disney World, we have this list’s first example of revenue-generating tourist trapping. “Orlando was one of the early adopters of red-light cameras. They installed many before it was legal to do so,” says Farrell. The POI Factory list reports 41 cameras in the city.
“St. Louis has a reputation for having many small ‘speed trap’ towns,” Farrell says. “Looking at the TrapMap [shown at left], I can see why!” In the St. Louis metro area, there are 89 traffic cameras, according to POI Factory.
In addition to its place in American history, Washington has a long history of handing out speeding tickets. The nation’s capital is also known for its large number of enforcement cameras, Farrell says. It has 349, according to POI Factory.
Ah, Vegas: There’s your local resident traffic plus the glut of everyday out-of-towners who don’t know where they’re going or the speed limits, and big events bringing even more congestion and out-of-towners. The LVPD views this as a jackpot. “Look out for speed traps while vacationing in Vegas, especially in the summer months,” Farrell says.
Most cities in Texas are in Trapster’s top 20, but Houston is the highest-ranking speed-trap city at number 3. “Texas can be tricky, with a reputation of changing the speed limits on major highways to dramatically low speeds, then back up to high speeds,” Farrell says.
Every Los Angeleno spends a significant portion of their L.A. life in a car — and it seems much of that car time is spent doing the opposite of speeding. So why is L.A. number 2? Farrell points out, “If you are on the freeway any time other than morning commute or after-work commute, you know that the speed limit on the freeway does not match the flow of traffic. It almost seems like all of Southern California’s highways have an average of 80-mph drivers.”
Driving in New York is not for the faint of heart. It is for the hardy of spirit and the liberal user of hand gestures and the vigorous proclaimer of vocal epithets. It’s fortunate that driving in many parts of New York City, especially Manhattan, is not necessary for most residents because it comes in at number one on the list with the most reports on Trapster.
“With its high number of drivers on the road, police enforce speed very seriously,” says Farrell. POI Factory lists the number traffic-enforcement camera locations at 451 for the New York metro area, making it number one on its list.