Local News

How Fast is Too Fast? Part 2

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Heavy traffic doesn't mean heavy ticketing.
RALEIGH — Ask a dozen drivers where the speed traps areand they may give you a dozen answers. Our investigative reporterStuart Watson took a different approach.

Using a computer, he looked at more than 300,000 North Carolinaspeeding tickets.

The WRAL5 Investigates computer analysis includedonly tickets written by thehighway patrol. It did not include ticketsissued by police officers or by sheriffs' departments. And, no matterhow many tickets troopers end up writing, they have no financialincentive to write more tickets -- because none of the fines is returnedto the highway patrol budget..

Troopers' blue lights are flashing and they are stopping driversfor pushing the limit.

You might think troopers write the most tickets wherethey find the most drivers. Not so. For instance, lots more peopledrive on I-40 by RDU International Airport thanon I-40 around South Saunders street in Raleigh. But troopers handed outseven times more tickets around South Saunders. The road is a favored wayfor getting a beeline to the coast.

Trooper Beckley Vaughan says a lot of beach weekends have gotten off toa rocky start after the drivers were ticketed.

Last year, troopers wrote more than 5000 tickets along I-40between US-1 at Cary and the Johnston County line. At the same time,troopers wrote fewer than 700 tickets from Cary west to the DurhamCounty line.


It's literally by design. The road design. The wider interstatewith barriers in the median makes it tougher for troopers to catchspeeders.

Then there are the lanes. With more lanes comes less certainty whichdriver the radar gun is clocking.

Finally there's a safety factor. Troopers stopping cars along I-40 areconcerned they might actually cause an accident in the heavy traffic.

We wanted to find the areas where troopers write the most tickets perdriver per mile. We looked for sections of highway with at least athousand tickets last year.

Here's the top 10 list:

10: US 52 in Stokes County, north of Winston-Salem

9: US 17 in Camden County, north of Elizabeth City

8: US 17 in martin County, near Williamston

7: US 421 in Wilkes County, between the Yadkin County line andWilkesboro

6: US 321 in Lincoln County, north of Gastonia

5: I-40 in Sampson County, near Clinton

4: US 264 in Pitt County, between the Greenville city limits and theGreeneCounty line

3: I-85 in Rowan County, between the Davidson County line and theSalisbury city limits

2: US 64 in Tyrrell County on the way to Manteo

And North Carolina's number one place with the highestrate of speeding tickets written by state troopers is: US17 in ChowanCounty near Edenton.

Troopers readily admit some stretches of highway get moreenforcement than others. Just don't call those places speed traps.

Horton says he doesn't "really know what a speed trap is."

Vaughan says these areas are "well worked," but that he "certainlydon't consider it a speed trap."

Whether you call it a trap or heavy enforcement, the effect is thesame. And the effect troopers are working for - to get drivers to stoppushing the limit by pushing the pedal to the metal.

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