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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.