Speed Traps

March 28th, 2012

Yesterday in Kailua, I got busted for speeding -- along with dozens of others who were doing over the 25 mph speed limit on Hamakua Drive, a four-lane major street that goes from Kailua Road to Enchanted Lakes. Before I continue, let me say I agree speeding is a serious problem. But nearly all the fatal accidents involving excessive speed I hear about, occur at night and on highways. So why do police set up speed traps during the day or in spots that aren't considered to be dangerous for pedestrians or drivers?

Well, if you believe the people I spoke to, they think it's because the police have a "quota" to make and it's really about generating easy revenue since most people won't challenge the tickets. All I know is the place where the police chose to set up their radar gun was nowhere near any pedestrian crossing, and was on a section of Hamakua Drive that has a slight incline. Even if you were going 25 mph (which no one does on that stretch) you would naturally press down on the gas pedal just to maintain your speed, and as you reach the top of that incline, it's easy to be doing 35 mph before you saw the cop up ahead, holding the radar gun. I was clocked at 37 mph, which is possible for that brief instant when I was going uphill.

I honestly did not realize the speed limit was 25 mph. There are two-lanes traveling in each direction. Between the Safeway intersection and Keolu Drive, there isn't any cross street. So after I was ticketed, about two hours later I returned with my Flip video camera to observe how many other cars were traveling over 25 mph, and how many the police were pulling over. What bothered me most was the police didn't even see how dangerous it was for me to cross the street from the corner of the Safeway parking lot to the side where Firestone, Down to Earth and some restaurants are located. If anything, THAT is where they should have set up their radar guns because speeding in that area is really a threat to pedestrians -- not to mention cars pulling out of Safeway that must cross two lanes if you're going toward Enchanted Lake... which was my case earlier.

But it doesn't seem that was the police's intent. They weren't doing it to make a safety statement about the dangers to pedestrians if you speed in certain areas or at certain times, when drivers should be alert to more foot traffic on busy roads. The Kailua speed trap took a tag team approach. While one cop wrote up the ticket, the other held the radar gun and waved alleged speed violators over to the side. However, since virtually every car I saw was going over 25 mph, there were times when both cops were busy writing tickets while some speeders got a free pass.

As I continued recording their actions on video, it also became apparent that police do NOT ticket every car that is going over the speed limit. I'm not sure if it was because they got hand cramps from writing so many citations, or if they were being more lenient because they saw that I was recording them on video. Even though I didn't have a radar gun, it's fairly obvious when someone is going over the limit -- they immediately hit the brakes and slowed down substantially as soon as they saw the police up ahead or the cars that were pulled over by them. So how much leeway do individual police have, or is it arbitrary who they let slide and who they wave over?

What irks me is if you do drive the posted 25 mph limit on a major thoroughfare like Hamakua Drive, you will have people either tailgating you or passing you left and right, which is even more dangerous if those drivers are weaving in and out of traffic. Going 5 to 10 mph over the limit to maintain a steady traffic flow doesn't seem like it should warrant a traffic ticket, unless it is an area where there are pedestrians or cross streets. Can you imagine what would happen if police decided to strictly enforce the exact speed limit on the Pali Highway, Likelike, H-1, H-2 or H-3? Sheesh.

But the real issue is what good are these daytime speed traps on residential streets, when the most serious traffic accidents almost always happen late at night or in the wee hours of the morning when drunks and younger drivers are most likely to be doing 70 to 80 mph on major highways.


Speaking of highways, I'm surprised that the media hasn't followed up on the StreetVac road pollution filter story we're currently airing on this month's Career Changers TV show. Jeff Krantz, who owns SeaBreeze Watersports in Hawaii Kai (his wife, Courtney, runs the day-to-day operations) invented a low cost filter that is easily installed in car wheel wells. The filters trap metal particles and other pollutants created by cars that normally wind up in the air or run off into the water system when it rains. He offered to do a test pilot program using State vehicles at NO COST... and the DOT turned him down without showing much interest.

Meanwhile, he and Mark Bell -- an inventor who is helping market StreetVac -- have been able to get support from government leaders in other countries to implement test programs because the patented filters could greatly reduce air and water pollution. You can see the video by clicking here. For daily viewing times of the current Career Changers TV episode, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV.

6 Responses to “Speed Traps”

  1. Rich Figel:

    To JT:
    That's not what I said. If the cops are doing their job, as you say, why did so many other speeders NOT get ticketed? That's my point. BTW, are you telling me you never, ever go above the speed limit when everyone else around you are doing 10-15 mph over the posted limits on highways?

    What is unbelievable is that police aren't setting up these speed traps at night to catch drivers who are racing or drunk, or both.

  2. Rich Figel:

    NOTE TO "ANONYMOUS" COMMENTERS: I just removed a post because the person chose to use a slang term for the male genital organ as his sign in name. BTW, I -- and other Star-Advertiser blog monitors and administrators -- can see your IP address and email address. So please don't post anything you won't man up to or be willing to defend under your actual name. To "JT," you aren't really very funny using a fake name that reveals your true identity.

  3. dihudfan:

    if you are speeding... doesn't that mean you were speeding? how can you justify speeding, because you weren't aware, than you are not paying attention to your driving... if people paid attention to their driving than they wouldn't need a speed trap. If the police decided to enforce the speed limits on the highways, this world would be a safer place. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I don't speed, I too, get distracted a lot while driving, but I do try to travel at speed limits most of the time. Drive with ALOHA!!!

  4. Rich Figel:

    Everybody speeds, as you just admitted. Including police. The question is why do cops set up speed traps in areas where speeding has not been a problem? There's a big difference between going 35 mph on a 25 mph street and doing 70-80 on a 40 mph street. But yes, we should drive with "aloha" -- which to me, means keeping up with the prevailing traffic flow. Also, I believe the speed limit posted on certain roads such as Hamakua Drive isn't appropriate for the type of traffic on that street. It's a four-lane major street, two lanes going both ways. I repeat: NO ONE drives 25 mph on that stretch I got ticketed on, unless they see a cop. And I have video to prove it.

    Meanwhile, there was another fatal accident last NIGHT. That's why I asked why these speed traps aren't set up at night, when drunks and young people (older drunks, racers too) are out on the streets. Where were the speed traps last night?

  5. Scott:

    I hear ya Rich. I don't miss the boorish driving behavior of some folks on Oahu, and those should be the ones the cops target. The only thing I miss from Hawaii driving is people waving thanks when you accomodate them, or let them merge. Ok, got to speed on outta here! Good reading your blog after these few years!

  6. Rich Figel:

    Hey, Scott - what's driving like where you're at now? I think it's not so much going over the speed limit (especially when it's 25 mph) that is dangerous. It's distractions -- such as people talking on cell phones or texting, eating or reading books and newspapers while driving (which I have seen). I was not distracted or driving recklessly when I got ticketed. In fact, many times I see slower drivers on the road who are clearly dangerous because you can see they're preoccupied with doing other things while driving.

    The only people I see doing 25 mph on busy roads are the ones who drive 25 mph everywhere they go... usually with their right turn signal blinking the entire time. And yes, they're usually elderly drivers, who don't seem to understand that slower traffic should move over to the right hand lane when they're on the highway.