AAA recognizes the importance of selecting appropriate and enforceable speed limits. When maximum speed limits are correctly set and applied, they improve mobility, motorist safety and respect for the law. States are urged to use engineering and traffic surveys when setting maximum speed limits and to adopt limits that will not have a significant adverse effect on highway safety. As a minimum, these surveys should include:
- Prevailing speeds as determined by traffic engineering measurements.
- Accident records.
- Highway, traffic, vehicle and roadside development characteristics.
The most common traffic-law violation is speeding, outnumbering all other traffic violations combined. And how much time do you really save by speeding – and risking a costly traffic ticket or, worse, causing a crash? Check out the time it takes to make a 30-mile trip at different speeds:
55 miles per hour = 32.7 minutes
65 miles per hour = 27.7 minutes (5 minutes saved)
75 miles per hour = 24 minutes (8.7 minutes saved)
This math assumes you can maintain a constant speed without slowing down for traffic, signals or curves in roads. In reality, you’d probably save only 4 minutes, at best. And keep in mind, most trips are short. The average time saved on a 5-mile trip, driving 65 mph on a 45 mph posted road, is only 1.9 minutes.
Formula: Time/mph x 60 (minutes)
Example: 30/75 = .4 x 60 = 24 minutes
Speeding is involved in about 13 percent of all crashes – and 33 percent of all fatal crashes. Speeding increases the risk of a crash, because there is less time and distance available to respond. Our reaction times – about 1 second for most drivers – don’t speed up just because we are going faster.
Attention teens: Most states now have graduated driver licensing laws. That means if you have a traffic violation, you may lose your right to drive. Insurance costs could rise, and financial penalties could be steep. Is possibly saving a few minutes on the road really worth the risk?
AAA includes information about strict traffic enforcement areas and traffic traps in routing information available at member offices or via AAA’s website.
A strict enforcement area is where traffic laws are strictly enforced for safety reasons. No censure is implied, nor is it intended to be derogatory in any way. AAA’s purpose in designating such an area is simply to alert members and the traveling public. Examples:
- Speeding citations issued routinely for speeds of less than 8 mph above the posted speed limit.
- Higher-than-average number of citations.
- An announcement by local authorities that an area has been targeted due to documented safety issues such as number of crashes or speeding problems.
A traffic trap is a location used to entrap unsuspecting motorists – especially strangers – or where strict enforcement practices are followed primarily for revenue generation, rather than improving safety. AAA’s purpose is to warn motorists of a potential abuse of enforcement powers and unjust abridgment of motorists’ rights. Examples:
- Improperly timed traffic signals.
- Sudden, unannounced reductions in posted speed limits.
- Obscured or hidden signs.
- Poorly marked school zones.
AAA notifies an area’s state and local authorities and U.S. representatives and senators of its designations and performs periodic evaluations to determine whether these designations should remain in effect.