Archive for Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More speeders under the radar

Patrols are down, and so are number of tickets issued

Life in the fast lane may not be as expensive as it used to be.

February 10, 2009


Traffic moves along Bob Billings Parkway between Iowa Street and Kasold Drive in this file photo. Lawrence was placed on a list of speed trap cities along with Overland Park.

Traffic moves along Bob Billings Parkway between Iowa Street and Kasold Drive in this file photo. Lawrence was placed on a list of speed trap cities along with Overland Park.

Related document

2008 Municipal Court Annual Report ( .PDF )

On the street

Have you received a speeding ticket in the last year?

Absolutely not. I am a careful driver.

More responses

If you got a speeding ticket in Lawrence in 2008, consider yourself unlucky.

For the third consecutive year, the city issued significantly fewer speeding tickets. According to a new annual report from Lawrence Municipal Court, 6,049 speeding tickets were issued in 2008. That’s a 15 percent decline — or about 1,100 fewer tickets than were issued in 2007. The 2008 numbers are down from a high of about 9,800 speeding tickets issued in 2005.

No, the city is not feeling all warm and fuzzy and choosing to look the other way.

And no, drivers probably aren’t easing up on the accelerator in greater numbers.

“We’d like to think that,” City Manager David Corliss said. “But a lot of it is that the number of officers we can put out on traffic patrol has declined some.”

Corliss said that for much of 2008, the city’s police force had 13 unfilled positions, which accounted for about a 10 percent reduction in the number of sworn officers on the street.

“I’m predicting that those numbers go back up as we get closer to full staffing,” Corliss said. “But we’re not there right now.”

City leaders, though, are taking steps to fill the positions. Despite the talk of budget cuts, the city has started a new police academy to train new recruits. It currently has 13 participants, Corliss said. The department also is taking applications for a future police academy.

Corliss said other factors in the decline are that as the Lawrence Police Department deals with other major crimes, it has fewer officers to devote to traffic patrol.

Declines showed up in other areas, too.

The number of parking meter violations in downtown Lawrence dropped by about 3 percent compared with 2007. The city issued about 92,300 parking meter tickets in 2008. It was at least the second consecutive year that parking meter tickets have been on the decline. In 2006, the city issued about 96,700 tickets.

Corliss said he wanted to study further why those numbers are heading downward. He said one explanation could be that the city has become more aggressive in collecting past-due parking ticket fines.

“Sometimes that deters people from getting a ticket in the first place,” Corliss said.

The city collected on 61 percent of parking meter tickets issued in 2008. That’s up from 58 percent in 2007.

Other numbers from the annual report included:

• The number of tickets issued for running a red light dropped from 850 to 490.

• The number of tickets for operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol increased from 491 to 505, but still is the second-lowest total in the last five years.

• The number of tickets for minors in possession increased from 422 to 473.

• The number of animal at large citations — such as dogs on the loose — jumped from 279 to 513.

• Noise violations declined from 340 to 286.

• Overall, fines, court costs, and other fees from the court added $2.77 million to the city’s budget. That was a 6 percent increase from 2007. Total revenue was up, in part, because 2008 was the first full year for several new fines and fees that city commissioners approved in mid-2007.


compmd 9 years, 1 month ago

How about we do something about the red light runners? That seems to be a sickness run rampant in this town...

labmonkey 9 years, 1 month ago

When I lived there, I think Lawrence was a little overstaffed with police, and the ones they had deserved most of the bacon jokes they received. Understaffed by 13 means Lawrence probably has enough officers. But I am sure Lawrence's citizens will enjoy another tax increase.

Daniel Speicher 9 years, 1 month ago

Frankly, I think we have one of the best police departments around. They are, generally, professional in demeanor and go the extra mile to "serve and protect." I have been in towns in which neither of these are the case. I feel very fortunate to be back in a town that has a police force that doesn't remind me of Mayberry.

Curtis Lange 9 years, 1 month ago

Can officers give another patrol car a ticket? Some of the worst traffic offenders in this city are the police themselves. Illegal lane changes. No turn signals. Speeding. Not coming to complete stops at 'Right Turn on Red.' They need to take care of themselves first before trying to enforce the same laws on the public.

jonas_opines 9 years, 1 month ago

"Lawrence liberals, why do you hate obeying the law so much?"I thought that a large tenet of conservatism was a less-intrusive government, Right-thinker? Wait, my mistake, you're not actually a conservative are you? I keep forgetting that because you repeat so many of their talking points, but you definitely hold too many silly positions and contradictory opinions to be christened anything more than a rightwing-nut, don't you?

jonas_opines 9 years, 1 month ago

Who's Tom Shewmon? I've never heard of him.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence has pretty good cops. It's hard to believe that we are short handed. They seem to be everywhere when I go out.

HighScore 9 years, 1 month ago

I am with logrithmic, my average speed decreased when gas prices crept up around $4/gallon in an effort to decrease by fuel consumption. Even though prices are at a reasonible level once again, I continue "hyper-mile" and get as much as I can out of each gallon. I am guessing that this is becoming more and more common and as a result there are fewer and fewer speeders and less tickets being issued.On a side note, I was riding with a co-worker last week when he got pulled over. There was a nice sized speed trap set up in Olathe that trapped him and several other drivers. Does anyone know if the number of tickets being issued is down across the entire state or only in Lawrence?

Sharon Aikins 9 years, 1 month ago

I've worked with people who came here from both coasts and they all say driving in Lawrence is the worst. I just jokingly tell them we all went to the Lawrence School of Driving. The first course of offensive driving and then they forget about the defensive. Could be me but I feel a little safer lately sticking my nose out into the intersection after I get a green light. More people seeming to be using their turn signals. But when will we ever learn that when we turn left onto a four lane street, we turn into the left then signal to move into the right and vice versa. The law is different for four lanes as opposed to two. Then there are the ones who drive about 10MPH under in the left lane, those who need two lanes to turn, slow down for green lights, turn right without slowing down on red, etc. I know there are a lot of bad drivers everywhere but I'm guessing a lot of Lawrence driver's would be killed or receive a lot of high fives minus four fingers in a large city.

kmat 9 years, 1 month ago

I agree with weatherman. I see too many cops running lights, speeding, etc... And then the worst is watching a cop just look at someone that just ran a light, made an illegal lane, change, etc... Just Sunday at 6th and Mass watched a Lawrence cop and a state trooper watch as a car illegally changed lanes in the intersection, almost hitting another car, then sped off. Neither cop did nothing. Why??? And way too often I see these cops sitting in the parking lot of the funeral home on 6th street, cars pulled up next to one another, just talking away. If we are short on cops and they are supposedly so busy fighting crime, then why are they sitting in parking lots chewing the fat?Don't take me wrong. I don't dislike cops. My uncle is a Sheriff in CA. But I don't like lazy cops. This is a town full of JoCo students that can barely drive. We should have no problem making lots of money off these kids if we just enforce the laws.

thomgreen 9 years, 1 month ago

Am I the only one that gets a little annoyed by the city viewing these fines as "revenue". What is the point of a fine? I thought it was to deter people from breaking the law. I did not think it was supposed to be viewed as a revenue stream. And when did being liberal equate to being a slow driver? I tend to run about 5 miles over the speed limit, and the last time I checked, I'm about as liberal as they come.

Linda Aikins 9 years, 1 month ago

Redmoon, you have to be kidding. Have these coworkers ever tried to drive in Boston? New York City? LA? Denver? I'm guessing they would change their stories.BUTT - how about handicapped drivers who drive like maniacs? Doesn't handicapped mean they are somewhat physically limited? Shouldn't they be more cautious?

kmat 9 years, 1 month ago

redmoon isn't kidding. Although the traffic is worse, the drivers are better in LA. You have to be a good driver out there or you'll never make it. I curse everytime I come back here from LA and have to adjust to KS drivers again.

Evan Ridenour 9 years, 1 month ago

I have to agree with the comments regarding the poor driving of both citizens AND police officers. I run long distance and frequently have to jump out of the way of cars who run stop signs and red lights when I am ALREADY in the intersection. And yes, I have actually had to dive out of the way of a police cruiser who didn't stop and yield at a red light before turning right. He almost killed me and to top it all off he had the nerve to flash his lights and siren at ME like I had done something wrong.Probably one of the funniest things I have ever seen is when 7-10 cars run a red light on a left turn at a major intersection. I see this happen at least once a week where car after car continues to turn WAY after the light turned red. They even do it in front of police officers who don't even bother to pull one of the cars over. You would think they would bother to enforce running a red light when people are running it 20 seconds AFTER it turned red. I don't understand how people rationalize doing that. I could see maybe running it RIGHT when it turned red but 10-20 seconds AFTER? I mean SERIOUSLY? How stupid is the average driver here? The traffic signals exist for a reason, to preserve the safety of every driver and pedestrian... they aren't some archaic device that only exists to annoy you. Start obeying them! and Police... start enforcing them!!!

Linda Aikins 9 years, 1 month ago

kmat, it was my fantasy one year to go to those cities and teach them how to use turn signals, how to not drive 90, how to warn you when they are going into your lane. Have YOU ever been to Boston or Denver and driven? And don't even get me started on Missouri tagged automobiles.

Orwell 9 years, 1 month ago

So maybe the "traffic calming devices" and the money we spent on them didn't have the predicted results. How many officers, and how much additional traffic fine revenue, would we have had if we hadn't relied on a constructed "solution?"

workinghard 9 years, 1 month ago

redmoonrising- Usually I follow the "turn into the closest lane rule" but there are a few turns that I deliberately turn into the far lane, when I know I will need to make a turn in the other direction shortly. 9 times out of 10 if you get into the proper lane and then need to make a turn in the opposite direction, even though you put your blinker on signally that you need to get in that lane, the other cars will not let you in. Some even make sure you don't even try. It is just easier to get in the lane you need when you turn. There are times when I have to go past where I needed to go and come back from the other direction because I couldn't get over. I realize that there are those jerks that weave in and out, lane jumping and speeding, just to get ahead of everybody else, but you can usually tell who those people are. I'm sure that this is not the reason most people do it, but this is why I do it just in case you have seen me, I apologize in advance.

purplesage 9 years, 1 month ago

The lazy tickets they wrote by the hundreds out by the Episcopal church on W. 6th and the trap on Kasold, between 15th and Clinton Parkway during construction days might be a factor. Now, they have to really catch speeders instead of lying in wait for someone to vilolate an unrealistically low speed limit even on days when workers weren't present. You know they are after the revenue. $$$Government$$$ = Greed

Jim Phillips 9 years, 1 month ago

"parrotuya (Anonymous) says… LPD is just another name for “revenue collectors.” Speed limits need to be adjusted to reflect driving reality. And police should spend their time pursuing criminals, not meeting “revenue quotas.” That is why they get no respect. Oink, oink!"My, my, my! I do believe someone's handcuff marks are showing!

Curtis Lange 9 years, 1 month ago

Defender, his overall post is accurate however his times are a bit exaggerated...more like up to five seconds after the light turns red. I've personally witnessed people doing this in front of LPD as well with no consequences.

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