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Beware the Speed Traps

Toronto
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Beware the Speed Traps

Travel Advisory: We were travelling in Shasta County (which includes Redding and Lassen Volcanic Park). The speed limits change constantly without notice. We were doing the "average" speed, only to come down a hill and be stopped by a state trooper who was sitting there, waiting. He told us that the speed limit was ten miles less than we had been doing (neither of us had seen a sign; and keep in mind that we were sight-seeing, so we had no interest in speeding intentionally). We got a $200 fine. The officer offered no caution, but did note that we were tourists and not likely to contest the fine in court. When we stopped at a hotel in Redding (we didn't want to give the county more money, but we were exhausted having spent the day hiking), we spoke to two other people who had also been caught in speed traps. Bottom line: go to Yosemite or Death Valley, they value tourists there.

And please note: we have travelled through Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California for the past six summers and have never had a ticket before).

Edited: 30 August 2011, 06:42
Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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1. Re: Beware the Speed Traps

I'm sorry that the CHP officer was not willing to warn you, but 10 mph is quite a bit over the speed limit. Hopefully your passenger will be on the look-out for speed limit signs now. It is amazing how often speed limits change in rural areas and as you drive into towns.

Yosemite and Death Valley are National Parks so speeding offenses are federal crimes. You will not be ticketed by the California Highway Patrol, but by a National Park ranger.

Toronto
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2. Re: Beware the Speed Traps

What upset us is that the officer was sitting at the bottom of the hill, in a zone that must have suddenly dropped ten miles an hour (I was the passenger and I do look for the speed zones). This was a speed trap, plain and simple. Also, the officer did not pull us over right away: he followed us for some time before pulling us over. He clearly had checked the licence and determined the car was a rental, knowing that we would not be likely to contest the ticket.

Like I said, we have travelled throughtout the southern US every summer for the last few years. We know that speed limits change suddenly: this officer in this park took advantage of that fact.

San Diego
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3. Re: Beware the Speed Traps

We have not experienced this in California BUT we have been stopped twice in Texas. ONCE was for being 3miles over the speed limit in El Paso!!!

Luckily we only got a warning for that one!! We got a ticket at the famous Midland/Odessa speed trap!

Lassen National...
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4. Re: Beware the Speed Traps

I know they're out to make money & get quota's, but I have to say that most tourists & locals on the roads pretty much everywhere speed. Some speed through Lassen Park! Maybe those are people who think they're taking a short cut.

california
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5. Re: Beware the Speed Traps

I got a speeding ticket in Yosemite from a ranger who was hiding just past the tunnel as you enter the park. He explained that the speed limits were there to protect the wildlife...deer in the tunnel! Right. Have a nice day.

For those wondering, you can't take traffic school to get rid of a federal ticket.

Washington State
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6. Re: Beware the Speed Traps

So the term "speed trap" got me thinking. What is the definition of "speed trap"? There is a legal definition in California dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d17/vc40802.htm , but I don't think that's what is meant in this thread. I found some of these definitions:

-- (the police officer) sitting in an area where the speed limit goes down without a "reduced speed ahead" sign posted before the change

-- Revenue Producing Location

-- (must have all three of these) 1. A section of roadway with a dramatic reduction in speed. 2. Said reduction in speed serves no purpose other than to create a location useful for the enforcement of speed laws. 3. Speed laws at the location are enforced exclusively for the generation of revenue.

-- speed trap; noun - A word made up by speeders to make the fact they got caught breaking the law someone else's fault

-- an artificially low speed limit that serves no purpose and is not supported by a speed engineering survey

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One more comment about speeding in Yosemite. Have you seen the "Speeding Kills Bears" signs? Each summer they're placed in locations where a bear was killed by a speeding car. There is a sign in one section of the Park with a 25 mph speed limit; I wonder how fast that driver was going.

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There is one busy road in my small town with a 25 mph speed limit. If you just let your car run down that hill, you'll easily hit 35 mph in just a few blocks. So you have to use your brakes or downshift. When the police sit at the bottom of the hill (and they do!), is it a speed trap? When they aren't there, is it still a speed trap? The speed limit on this residential street is always 25 mph and shouldn't be any higher.

Lassen National...
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7. Re: Beware the Speed Traps

Well, they're never where you want them. Right in front of my house the speed changes from 40-45 or vice versa depending on which way you're driving. Lots of people walk & bike along here. Lots of kids--some without helmets on. Quite often people are going 50. Often it's semi's & a few times I have seen the driver checking their cell phone!

Hitting a deer in a tunnel could kill people in the on-coming lane. The animal could fly into the air--50/50 chance goes into the on coming lane.

Edited: 30 August 2011, 21:32
Washington State
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8. Re: Beware the Speed Traps

Many years ago there was a couple headed up to Badger Pass from the Valley to pick up their daughter. They stopped on their way up to enjoy the winter view from Tunnel View overlook. Someone was coming out of the tunnel too fast. When he exited the tunnel and hit the snowy road, the driver lost control of his car and smashed into the couple admiring the view.

This is not a tunnel near an entrance, but it is a tunnel in the Park with a posted speed limit. Big Oak Flat Entrance / Hwy 120 has a gradual descent into the Valley and two tunnels. I have seen many folks parking just after the tunnels, enjoying the views. It would be easy to increase speed on the drive down, so I'm glad there are NPS rangers watching for our safety.

It's unfortunate when folks are ticketed and I've driven too fast myself, but most speed limits are created for safety reasons and should be obeyed.

Lassen National...
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9. Re: Beware the Speed Traps

That's very sad. Yes, going from ice to no ice back to ice can be very dangerous.

Los Angeles
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for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
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10. Re: Beware the Speed Traps

There are many sections of the 101 where CHP hide on motorcycles with those radar guns (usually on a curve where there's an offramp that hides them from on coming traffic). They never go after people going 70 in a 65 mph zone - they're looking for the 90 mph ones and they catch 'em, every day. Catching someone for 10 mph over the limit is pretty rude, actually by SoCal standards - but every single time we go to Arizona we get stopped (sometimes for no reason at all except being out at night near the border) and some cop shines his flashlight throughout our SUV, I guess to see if we've got illegals or drugs in there. I mean, we're from California, can't contest any tickets - and there may be other factors as well. Only once have we been ticketed for anything (I forgot to put my stupid registration sticker on, when we left on January 25 and it was Feb 2 when we were Arizona - and no, the officer did not want to contact the California DMV to see if I was registered; actually my poor DH got that ticket which shows up in a national database under his name - and it's my car and my mistake, darn it - it was almost $400 too).

We were stopped 4 times just during that one trip, but only that last officer found a reason to ticket us. One time it was "I think your brake light is out," but upon checking the working of our brake lights, it worked! (He just wanted to stop us).

It has now been 3 years since we've been back to Arizona - as opposed to going 3-4 times a year. We are planning a trip (we are planning to gas up before entering the state and pay taxes in California instead), and spend as much time on federal land as possible - or reservation land, as we find the Navajo police to be helpful and polite, as are the park rangers.

BTW, it's a good idea to never exceed the speed limit on any federal or reservation property...when in doubt, go a little slower...