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The Five Worst States To Speed In

Posted in driving, Lists, Police, Travel by Kurt Ernst | May 11th, 2011 | 13 Responses |

Image: Fábio Pozzebom, Agência Brasil

Mike and I are just back from One Lap of America. In case you’re not familiar with the event, it involves driving ten or so events at about eight different tracks over an eight day period. Race tracks in the United States are not conveniently located next to one another, and part of the One Lap Challenge is the transit legs. One leg in this year’s event involved driving nearly 700 miles after racing two events; in other words, you don’t even start the drive until mid-afternoon. Technically, you can go from event to event driving the posted speed limit (as some teams do), but you forgo a significant amount of sleep. It comes down to this: you need to push hard enough to get as much rest as possible, without jeopardizing your license or becoming a temporary resident of some backwater county jail.

There are plenty of lists on the internet showing which states to avoid speeding in. New Jersey tops most lists, but having lived there for 16 years I’m not sure I agree. Yes, you will get popped for speeding if you drive like an asshat, but your chances of getting pulled over while keeping up with traffic aren’t high. Traffic generally flows at about 15 MPH over the posted limit, and rush-hour traffic stops are virtually non-existent. I’d still advise caution while driving in the Garden State, but it certainly doesn’t make my top five list.

Based on our experiences on this year’s One Lap of America, I offer up the following five states as the worst for speed enforcement. Your mileage may vary, so to say, so if you have a differing opinion just let us know.

Virginia

How bad is the state of Virginia for speeders? Even a truck from the New Jersey State Police Urban Search and Rescue Team, bound for the devastation in Alabama, was driving at the posted speed limit. Virginia bans radar detectors, so you’re driving blind on their highways. PBA cards won’t help you here, since Virginia cops will even ticket cops from other states.

Ohio

Another perennial favorite on the list of states not to speed in, Ohio generally ranks just below New Jersey. You’ll see it all here, including unmarked cars pacing traffic, laser and multiple radar bands. If you keep your speed within a reasonable approximation of the speed limit, and keep your head on a swivel, chances are you’ll be alright.

Louisiana

Mike and I saw more cops in Louisiana than in any other state on the trip. Maybe that’s why the state has such a high crime rate: focusing on speed enforcement must be more lucrative than actually creating a police presence in high-crime areas. If you’re driving through Louisiana, keep your speed in check.

Alabama

Surprisingly, Alabama had the second highest number of cops shooting radar. The area around Birmingham was heavily patrolled and enforced, which struck me as odd. With all the tornado damage in the area, I don’t think my primary focus would be ensuring compliance with traffic laws.

Indiana

Nowhere near as bad as the other four states, Indiana still had more traffic enforcement than the remaining states we drove through. Watch your speed through bigger cities like Indianapolis and you should be fine.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you that speeding is illegal and comes with inherent risk. Always drive with respect to conditions, your own capabilities and your mental state. Watch out for trucks, since high-speed fly-bys tend to irritate them, and truckers use CB radios. Some even like to enforce the speed limit by pulling alongside another truck and blocking your ability to pass. No matter how irritating this may be, keep your head and pass only when safe.

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13 Responses

  1. Austin Schutz says:

    What about Texas? The areas in and around Houston/Dallas/Austin are horrible.

  2. Adam says:

    How about the best states?

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      Montana comes to mind, even if the daytime speed limit is no longer “reasonable and prudent”. Wyoming is alright outside of major cities, as is much of Nevada and western Arizona. Utah has plenty of places to drop the hammer, such as state route 50.

      Think “big, open areas, away from major cities” and you get the idea.

    • ptschett says:

      North Dakota. The fines are negligible, not much more than $1 per MPH. It’s the points that hurt (but they don’t kick in till 15-over for under-65 roads, and 10-over for 65+ roads.)

      NOT South Dakota or Minnesota, though. The SD fine was $70-ish last time I was stopped there, and I think MN’s fines start at $140 (though I’ve just had warnings the times I’ve been stopped in MN.)

      • Kurt Ernst says:

        I got stopped in South Dakota once, but it was mostly because the trooper was looking to buy the car I was driving and had questions about it. He did write me an official “State of South Dakota Courtesy Warning Ticket” as a souvenir, though…

  3. I think it matters more depending on the city than the state. Some cities are known for faster traffic; especially if they are in an industrial type area where people commute to work. I am in CA and I noticed people drive insanely fast in Lake Forest and Irvine. People drive much slower in Costa Mesa or Huntington Beach…

  4. Brock says:

    I would select Oregon and California as the two states after Virginia and Ohio. Those two states while unmentioned in the post, tend to have pretty aggressive police and some of the heaviest fines in the country for all infractions. Virginia to me is the worst as it respects no other states registration process and is willing to write tickets for equipment legal in the other 49 states. They also have the felony charge of reckless driving for speeds 20 over or anything over 80 mph which requires a court appearance and a heavy fine. New York, Ohio, Indiana, Kansas and others are just after the money, while irritating, and expensive, they are usually pretty easy to deal with.

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      Brock, have you ever considered launching a fee-based website with strategic information on avoiding tickets? I’m guessing most One-Lappers would sign up!

      • Brock says:

        No Kurt, I haven’t as most time it’s just paying attention, keeping your eyes up and having the right tools in the car. Police using laser have to be in plain sight, and it takes time to aim the unit, so if you are paying attention, these should be avoidable tickets. Watching traffic react ahead will give clues if there is something you need to slow for. I use a Escort radar detector all the time, and on long road trips plug in a CB with a big antenna for the needed extra range. A new tool is Trapster.com and some other services that load known red-light camera, speed traps and photo radar locations onto your phone or GPS. While the speed trap part is a waste of time as it is a user generated database and folks tend to mark each location they’ve ever seen a cop. This means there are nearly constant “alerts” where the photo radar and red-light cameras are fixed and somewhat more reliable.

  5. Set says:

    Or any and every military base. 1 mph over is a ticket. No amount of pleading and bargaining will ever work. Hence why, if the speed limit is 35, every single person drives 33 or under.

  6. Dan says:

    The cops are getting a little thicker around St. Cloud MN. It is funny that they started showing up a lot since the price of gas has gone up again…

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      Dan, if you think about it, it makes sense. If the police are paying more for gas, they need to recover that cost increase somehow.