Traffic laws should improve safety, not increase revenue

Currently legislation is pending at the state level to reduce plea bargaining, in addition to increased fines, for certain traffic violations.

While I have always favored strict traffic enforcement, a widespread public perception exists that the primary purpose of traffic laws is to generate revenue for state and local governments, and for this reason many speed limits are set unrealistically low, so as to maximize the number of summonses. Unfortunately, in many cases this perception is accurate.

Rather than find new ways to increase fine revenue, it is time to focus on changing unrealistic traffic laws so that their primary purpose is safety, rather than revenue. This includes unnecessary four-way stop signs, as well as speed limits.

I’ll cite just three example of many such speed limits, each established by a different entity. One is the I-290 speed limit of 55, another is the 55-mph limit on I-90 between the Lackawanna and Williamsville toll barriers, another is the 30-mph limit on Transit Road, south of Broadway, in the Village of Depew. In each area, the majority of traffic routinely drives at least 10 mph over the limit. Raising these speed limits by 5 to 10 mph would not adversely impact safety, but clearly would reduce the number of summonses issued.

I would also suggest a law that would make a first-time violation, where the speed was not more 12 mph over the limit, carrying a fine only and with no points, with insurance companies prohibited from using it as a basis for rate or surcharge increases.

David R. Markus