There's nothing more infuriating than seeing people with authority abuse their power. That's what happens every day at a speed trap.
Right now, as you read this, there's a police car somewhere hiding at the bottom of a hill next to a speed limit sign. A sign that announces a speed limit drop of 20 mph for no apparent reason.
Whenever it's most convenient for him, the officer will flip on his lights and pull over another driver. A driver whose only mistake was not disrupting the flow of traffic by abruptly slowing down by 20 mph when absolutely nothing about the road changed except for the number on the sign.
To add insult to injury, not only will this driver be forced to give up his hard-earned money, he's also going to have to listen to a lecture about how it's his fault because he's a bad, dangerous driver.
The officer knows that this speed trap is a total scam, but he has to do his job. His bosses know it's a total scam but they're under pressure from the local government officials. The local government officials know it's a total scam, but they've spent all the taxpayers' money and are greedy for more.
But most of all, every sane driver on the road knows it's a total scam. Because we're the ones dealing with the consequences every day.
When drivers get tickets, they're conditioned to take the blame. Guilt and shame are the emotions that rise to the surface. Even drivers who can plainly see that it's all a scam will have to fight these feelings – that's how ingrained it is.
That guilt and shame is exactly what keeps this racket in place.
The average driver finds it hard to argue against something that is "for their own safety" – even if deep down they know that everyone involved is just pretending that is actually true. Unfortunately, this gives politicians nearly unlimited power to ticket drivers – even when those drivers have done nothing wrong.
Of course, not everyone falls into this trap. Some people turn that guilt and shame into anger and think of ways to take revenge. Here are few of those stories.
- A driver in Bluff City, Tennessee, fought back by using some tech savvy. After being ticketed in a speed trap, he noticed that the local police department's website was about to expire, bought it out from under them, and posted information on the site to help warn other drivers about their speed trap tactics.
- The owner of a local sign company paid money out of his own pocket to create and post a sign warning about a notorious speed trap in his neighborhood. This clearly got under one police officer's skin because he confronted the man and tried to take the sign down. Even though the sign was well off to the side of the road, the officer's excuse was that it was "impeding traffic."
- A man in El Paso, Texas made a homemade sign to warn drivers about a speed trap. He jogged back and forth on the side of the road while holding the sign near where the speed trap was set up. The local police arrested him for "jaywalking."
- Motorists in Winnipeg, Canada became so fed up with the city's use of a confusing signage to boost the number of speeding tickets issued that they went to the expense of printing up their own speed limit warning sign. The motorists had been needling municipal leaders for over a year over their failure to adhere by the country's legal standards for warning signs. Within hours, despite the sign being on private property, the city had it removed.
- High school students in Maryland used speed cameras designed to ticket them in an elaborate prank. They printed up fake license plates and drove quickly past the speed camera. Since the cameras weren't advanced enough to figure out the difference, it started spitting out tickets assigned to whatever plate number they decided to print up.
- A Seattle, Washington driver decided to pay his $120 ticket from a speed trap using a garbage can full of pennies. The judge was not amused and ordered the man to wait in the courthouse while the pennies were counted at the bank.
- This final story may apocryphal (it hasn't been verified), but it's too entertaining not to share: A group of Australian youths distracted a speed camera van operator long enough for one of them to unscrew the van's license plate. They then attached the license plate to their car and drove by the van quickly enough to get a ticket. That ticket was then, of course, mailed out to the owner of the ticket camera van weeks later!
These stories are entertaining and whenever something similar happens, it always gets shared, forwarded, and talked about positively. Everyone loves a story where the little guy strikes back at the big bully with the authority.
But despite their entertainment value, they also conceal a dangerous message underneath.
To enjoy these stories, you have to believe that the local government officials actually do have all the power. You have to believe that it's an extraordinary thing to see normal drivers refuse to accept unjust punishment.
We don't have to feel like printing up signs or paying them in pennies is our only option. Our state and local officials only have as much power as we give them. If they abuse that power, we don't have to accept it.
Nearly every driver on the road hates speed traps and believes that they shouldn't exist. So why do they?
They exist because we accept them as a fact of life and go on with our day. They exist because we let them.
That's just sad. Especially when you consider how easy it would be to erase speed traps off the map. It would only take a fraction of a fraction of a percent of drivers being willing to take a stand.
The authorities want you to think that it would be hard, but in reality it's very simple. It won't take thousands of people to get rid of speed traps. It will only take a few people with passion.
It's time to stop gathering up pennies to "stick it to the man" and start gathering together to make a real difference.
It's time to stop blaming the people in charge and start blaming ourselves for letting them get away with it.
The National Motorists Association was founded in 1982 to put an end to the 55 mph national speed limit. We did that and we'll do this too.
We need more members like you and that's why we're directly asking you to join today. Not tomorrow. Not next month. Not someday. Today.
You don't have to commit to attend any rallies, you don't have show up at your legislator's front door, and you don't have to promise to make it your life's work.
All we're asking is that you join our organization, filled with other drivers like you, and listen.
Simply staying informed is enough to put you miles ahead of most other drivers who continue to bury their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away on its own.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
– Margaret Mead, American Cultural Anthropologist
And who knows, you may even surprise yourself and become one of those few passionate people that this nation's roads really need.
To join the National Motorists Association, please click on the big red button below.
This is what will happen after you click the join button above:
- You'll be taken to a page where you can enter your name, address, and contact information. We only use this information to provide you with relevant information about driving issues. We don't share it with anyone and we would never even consider selling it to anyone.
- After you finalize your membership by submitting the online membership payment form, you'll receive a receipt/welcome email describing some of the resources that have just become available to you.
- You'll immediately start receiving legislative alerts about traffic laws in your area (only when it's important) and you'll get access to our email newsletter as well (sent every Sunday morning).
- In a few weeks, you'll receive a new member packet in the mail along with a member card and more information to help you get the most out of your membership.
- For as long as you're a supporting member, you'll also receive our quarterly print newsletter in the mail (4 times a year).
The sole focus of the NMA is promoting reasonable traffic laws, but we understand that it can be tempting to decide against helping out. We've found that it's all too easy for some people to justify that decision without some kind of direct, personal benefit being offered to them.
That's why we also provide several membership benefits as an incentive to join (and stick with) the organization. One of our most popular benefits is:
Immunity From Future Speeding Tickets
All supporting members of the National Motorists Association are automatically enrolled in our Traffic Justice Program. Under this program, if you get a speeding ticket while you're a member, your ticket will be paid for by us. The only requirement is that you plead not guilty and fight it in court first. To take advantage of the program you simply submit to NMA a readable copy of the original ticket, the receipt from the Clerk of Court for the amount of the ticket and court costs, and the court confirmation of a trial having been conducted with a "guilty" verdict indicated.
The following restrictions apply: this program is restricted to speeding tickets, a plea bargain voids eligibility, one ticket per member will be paid each membership year (max. payment of $300), "Trial by Declaration" does not qualify as a "court trial", and legal fees for attorneys are not eligible for payment under this program. If a lower court decision is appealed and produces a guilty verdict, payment will be made at the conclusion of the appeal.
Why Are We Willing To Offer This Benefit To Our Members?
Our system of traffic laws and enforcement is broken and one way to force change is to make it unprofitable for cities to continue on their current path. The cities are counting on people just paying them the money. They set budgets that rely on that ticket money and it's to their advantage to do everything they can to inconvenience people who want to fight their ticket in court.
The NMA realizes this and we're offering this program to encourage people to stand up for their rights, fight their tickets, and help us change the system so that it focuses on improving safety instead of generating revenue.
Your supporting membership will extend NMA benefits to you, your spouse, and any children under the age of 21 residing in your home.
Can I join over the phone?
Of course! Just call our membership department toll-free at (800) 882-2785.
Our office is open Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm (Central Time Zone). Evening and weekend inquiries will be answered the following business day and we are closed on typical holidays.