Speed traps are just a cash grab

Neil Moore

By Neil Moore,
Metroland Media/Wheelstalk.com -

Speed traps were a hot topic on Toronto talk radio, and it took a spokesman from the U.S.-based National Motorists Association to tell us that Ontario’s are the worst in North America.

He continued, with a few well-considered points, to argue that speed traps are nothing but a cash grab and have little to do with safety.

I couldn’t agree more.

For example, if speed traps are truly about changing behaviour, why are they in the same, well hidden, locations week after week? If drivers are slowing down, it’s time to move to another problem area. If not, perhaps the “problem” is the speed limit.

I would argue that bureaucrats in cubicles may not be aware of the nuances of every highway, concession, arterial road, side street and cul-de-sac within their jurisdiction. Like it or not, there’s a fair degree of common sense within the flow of traffic.

Most drivers move at speeds that are both comfortable and safe for the current road conditions. Faster on dry sunny days, slower in the rain, and much, much slower on icy, snowy roads.

Those lacking a healthy level of self preservation (and respect for fellow motorists), need to be dealt with by officers on the road. Radar guns have little success at picking off these morons.

Am I suggesting we eliminate speed limits?

Absolutely not.

What we need are speed limits that make sense. A 100 km/h posted limit on our multi-lane 400-series highways has never worked, and serves simply as an excuse to pull over drivers who are otherwise driving safely.

Ditto on some of our wide open, four-lane arterial roads with limits of 50 km/h, and even as low as 40. With the exception of school zones – and during school hours – these are often a license to pick the pockets of unsuspecting motorists.

Back to the talk show, one caller did suggest that speed traps are actually a good thing, as they raise money for their chronically underfunded police force.

For starters, I’m not convinced the Toronto Police Service is underfunded, and if that’s the case, it makes sense to deploy their staff more effectively. Pointing a radar gun at traffic is hardly time well spent for these highly-trained professionals.

This caller also failed to recognize that while speeding tickets do raise a few bucks for police, they raise even more dough for insurance companies, who simply jack up their already sky-high premiums. A few minor tickets can cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Want to encourage safe motoring?

Then reward it. That’s a topic for a future column, but this could include the ability to earn back demerit points through advanced driver training, regain your six-star insurance rating, etc.

We all know the carrot works better than the stick. Maybe it’s time we stopped sticking it to the driver.


  1. Ross Longbottom says:

    If you could, please try to use kilometres in your stories as we don’t use miles that I know of at Metroland.
    I’m sure in the U.S. they give you data in miles, but if you have a chance, please try and convert it.
    If not, I understand. You’ve probably got lots to do besides doing miles to kilometres conversions, but …
    Thanks pal,
    Ross Longbottom
    copy editor, The Hamilton Spectator

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