published Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Magee: A new law in Georgia aims to curb superspeeders

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Audio clip

David Magee

Over the past two years, the Tennessee Legislature has worked to make traffic cameras a primary tool for state and municipal governments to use in cracking down on speeders -- and to pick up extra revenue.

Here's how it works: A stationary camera takes a picture. The owner of the vehicle receives a fine in the mail. The camera company in many instances gets half the money, and the governmental entity receives the other half.

Whether this is effective in curbing speeders, or is even legal, is subject to debate.

Georgia, though, may have the right idea with its superspeeder law that went into effect Friday. Anticipated to generate $25 million or more annually after administrative fees are collected, the law boosts fines and penalties for drivers exceeding 85 mph on highways with four or more lanes and 75 mph on two-lane roads and thoroughfares.

Violators will be hit with an additional $200 fine, and habitual offenders will face added penalties. The state receives all the revenue, with no portion going to private companies, since this legislation relies upon officers, not cameras, to do the job.

The premise behind Georgia's law is that dangerous high speeds cause many of the serious trauma injuries that clog emergency rooms and shatter or claim lives. The state's intent is to use fees collected from the superspeeder law to fund a trauma-care system.

Everyone knows that drivers, especially on interstates, regularly exceed the speed limit. Recently as I was driving on an interstate in Tennessee, the maximum speed of 75 mph felt like a crawl as one car after another zoomed past mine.

Soon, however, everything came to a halt because of a three-vehicle wreck up ahead. An hour later, after two ambulances came and went, the highway was reopened. Once each motorist passed the wreck site, most hit the gas, presumably to make up for lost time.

Maybe superspeeder laws like Georgia's will prevent scenes like that one.

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