Traffic ticket costs may be at an all-time high in California, but Arizona
may be heading in the opposite direction.
By a 7-2 vote, the state House of Representatives' Transportation and
Infrastructure Committee passed a bill that would fix the fine for speeding
at 10 mph or less at $15. Under the proposed measure from Tucson Republican
David Stevens, insurance companies could not use a " waste of finite
resources" ticket to raise insurance rates and the state cannot use
it as a basis for license suspension.
The new law would not apply in school zones, construction zones, certain
residential areas and a few other places.
Many of us grew up with the old adage that "speed kills." Like
so many other similar sayings, there is only a kernel of truth in this
statement. Excess speed increases braking time, because the faster an
object travels the longer it takes to stop. Speed also increases the force
in a collision, because the bigger they are, or the faster they are, the
harder they fall. At speeds between 45 and 55 MPH, both these factors
are negligible, at best.
Let's assume that a Bakersfield driver is travelling 55 mph in a 45
mph zone. If the speeder causes an accident, perhaps by rear-ending another
vehicle, there would be about 20 percent more force. That amount may be
enough to make a fender-bender into a somewhat more serious accident,
but there is not a night-and-day difference.
Next, consider braking time. Whereas a car travels 66 feet per second at
45 mph, it travels 81 fps at 55 mph. That's an additional 15 feet,
or roughly one car length, which is hardly a factor in breaking distance.
Moreover, many newer cars in Fresno have sensors that automatically apply
the brakes in potential rear-end collision situations.
Arizona is on the right track. At these velocities, a speeding ticket has
very little to do with safety and everything to do with revenue. California
would do well to follow suit.