Local News

Likelihood Of Traffic Stops Investigated

Posted November 22, 2002

— Most motorists have been there - Blue lights in the rear-view mirror. Your stomach in knots and your nerves on edge.

When you get pulled over, what are the chances you will get a ticket? WRAL headed out on the road for an inside look at the dreaded traffic stop.

Running radar on Highway 401, Trooper Beth Horton of the State Highway Patrol gets a hit. A Mitsubishi shoots by at 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. The driver darts off into a neighborhood. Once Horton catches up to the speeder and pulls him over, the questions start.


Is this your vehicle?


This is my vehicle.


Have you had a speeding ticket in the last three years?


No ma'am.

The driver said he was running around in a hurry.


What are you going to be picking up down there from them?


Got a pair of shoes.


Um-hmmm. You weren't just cutting down this road to get away. Were you?


No, ma'am.

It is a typical traffic stop - an excuse, an uncomfortable conversation and a ticket.


If you'll stay right here, I'm going to charge you for a 70 in a 55 on a citation. Just stay in your car, and I'll be right back with you.

"I mean I explained the situation," the driver said. "I'm in a hurry, and I'm trying to pick up stuff for my wedding and...It's not an excuse; it's just the circumstances."

Statistics from the State Bureau of Investigation show that motorists will probably get a ticket if a Highway Patrol officer pulls them over. From January to September, state troopers ticketed 80 percent of the drivers they stopped.

During the same time period, Raleigh police ticketed 67 percent of drivers they pulled over. Durham police came in at 69 percent.

Officers in Raleigh and Durham say that, unlike troopers, they pull over more people on city streets, where lower speeds lead to more warnings.

"I'm going home," the driver said. "I'm from Ohio, and I just ... My brother lives here. I'm having a really bad day."

Some believe women have a better chance of talking their way out of tickets, but the numbers show that is not the case.

From January to September, Raleigh police ticketed 71 percent of the women they pulled over, compared to 69 percent of men.

In Durham, 66 percent of women were written up, while 63 percent of men received tickets. The state Highway Patrol was about even at 80 to 81 percent.

One number drivers are always looking for is just how fast can they go over the speed limit and get away with it.

"On a two-lane road, I'll give you between 10 and 12 miles per hour over," Trooper Beckley Vaughan said. "That's extremely fast for a two-lane highway in a rural area. I usually start between 15 miles per hour and up on a large highway, your N.C. highways or interstate roadways or U.S. roadways, and that's fast enough."

WRAL watched Vaughan, the patrol's ticket-writing leader in Wake County, work the work zone along Interstate 40 near I-540. He caught a driver going 91 mph in the work zone.


Your speed is 91 mph in a 55 mph work zone. Any reason why you're going that fast?


I thought I was going 65.


Sixty-five. You may want to get your speedometer checked.

Facing a potential $350 ticket, the driver wanted to debate.


Ninety-one mph is too fast in any zone, work zone or no work zone, so just be careful.


But the speedometer ...


Your speedometer is wrong, OK. Slow it down and be careful.

"We hear a lot of different excuses," Vaughan said. "Some of them are new. Some are the same old excuses. But for the most part, there is no valid excuse for speeding or breaking the law. You either do it, or you don't do it. It's pretty much black and white."

Troopers said there are as many excuses as drivers, but they said only one thing works every time - driving the speed limit.


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