Lawrence is one of the worst speed trap cities in North America, according to a national association that believes local governments are unfairly using traffic laws to boost their coffers.
But according to actual speeding ticket numbers, the trap must be a little rusty.
The National Motorists Association listed Lawrence and Overland Park as the two cities that have the most speed traps in Kansas, based on the number of complaints the association receives from motorists on its Web site speedtrap.org.
Jim Baxter, president of the association based just outside of Madison, Wis., has been to Lawrence on multiple occasions.
“Lawrence is a nice community, but you’ve got a lot of people coming to town for university events, you’ve got a nice lake on the edge of town, there would be some pretty ripe pickings (for speed traps) especially for people who aren’t familiar with the area,” Baxter said.
City leaders, though, dispute the designation. They note that in 2007 the city issued 7,168 speeding tickets. That fell to 6,049 in 2008 and to 5,237 in 2009. City Hall leaders previously have said that, if anything, the city hasn’t been issuing enough tickets because the city has been short-staffed on the police department.
“It sounds like somebody got a speeding ticket and is unhappy about it,” City Manager David Corliss said about the report. “One of the concerns I hear expressed by residents is that in many cases we need to have more traffic enforcement, particularly in neighborhoods and near schools.”
The city has hired new officers for 2010, and tickets so far are on pace to top 2009 totals. Thus far, the city has issued 4,262 tickets.
The association’s Web site listed 20 alleged speed traps in the Lawrence area. The association doesn’t do anything to determine whether a site is a speed trap or a legitimate enforcement area. But the site does allow users to vote on whether they believe the sites are traps.
Baxter said his group defines a speed trap as an area where there is intensive enforcement and the speed limit is set below the speed that motorists naturally feel comfortable driving.