Written by Gregory Monte.
When looking for topics to write about on this blog, I sometimes just randomly pick a state and glance through its Motor Vehicle Code. Today I happened upon a section of Alabama’s code which stood out as particularly interesting:
As the name implies, it allows local authorities to alter speed limits on roads under their jurisdictions. This is a pretty standard and reasonable power given to localities in all of the states that I have studied. After all, who better to know what a small town’s speed limit should be than the people who actually live there?
But subsection (e) of this Alabama statute seemed a bit odd. Although it may not be unique, I am not aware of any other state which has similar language:
“Not more than six alterations as herein above authorized shall be made per mile along a street or highway, except in the case of reduced limits at intersections, and the difference between adjacent limits shall not be more than 10 miles per hour.”
SIX alterations in ONE short mile of roadway?
Talk about a potential speed trap on steroids!
What possible traffic situation would require this?
More importantly, why would the Alabama legislature even think that it needed to put this type of restriction into the code? What were they concerned about?
Well, it turns out that at least one local jurisdiction in Alabama had a tendency to abuse its policing powers when it came to speeding. Although it didn’t go totally overboard and install “six alterations” in the speed limit, it certainly set up a nice, fat, speed trap on a certain section of highway near Montgomery.
According to WSFA12 News:
“The speed limit quickly drops 10 miles per hour on Perry Hill Road near the interstate. Police are there to issue tickets. Drivers say a patrol car, sometimes two, will regularly sit in the median just beyond the sign.”
I have to say that I am thankful that I live in Pennsylvania where this kind of situation is not possible. Title 75, Section 3368(e) of our vehicle code specifies certain distance requirements which must be adhered to when the police are enforcing speed limits:
“Mechanical, electrical or electronic devices may not be used to time the rate of speed of vehicles within 500 feet after a speed limit sign indicating a decrease of speed.”
No offense to the fine residents of Alabama, but “southern hospitality” of the speeding trap kind we can all do without. I think even the local Montgomery residents would agree.