Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I read the other day that Boise, Idaho, is cracking down on speeders with the publicly admitted intent of boosting city revenues. It’s news to nobody that many towns and smaller cities depend on traffic fines for a significant portion of their operating budgets, but given the current economy don’t be surprised if it gets worse.
It already has here, if my travels around the area today are any indication. First I spotted a local cop parked on a side street behind some bushes, using radar on a 30-mph section of four-lane highway that goes through town. Unusual, but not unheard of.
About three miles later I saw a state cop ticketing a pick-up truck. In the next 25 miles or so I saw two more state cops on the prowl, another unusual sight since state budgets cuts drastically reduced the state police’s manpower levels years ago.
But when I got to my destination, I saw something so astonishing if I’d had a camera I would have taken a picture—a state cop ticketing a log truck, and not only that, but giving it a safety check.
Until about 15 years ago, logging was the main industry here. A loaded log truck might as well have been a busload of senators on the way to a session, with the same constitutional immunity from detention or arrest while in transit. If you drove a log truck, you pretty much had to drive past a school playground while firing a shotgun out the window to get pulled over.
So don’t be too shocked if you pick up a citation for 59 in a 55 sometime this riding season. Law enforcement is probably going to be a lot less tolerant of riding 10 over the limit in more parts of the country as the recession continues to hammer municipalities’ budgets.