Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Speed Pays... If you want it to

Can a simple sticker solve a state's financial crisis? Why Not?

  As I was driving to work this morning for my last workday before Christmas, I heard my engine make an unfamiliar noise as if it was complaining about being overworked. I looked at the dashboard to see if the check engine light had gone on and noticed I was going 85 miles an hour. I slowed down, my car stopped complaining, and I continued down the empty highway.
  I was lucky I didn’t get a speeding ticket like I got in Pennsylvania this past August courtesy of a state trooper who had nothing better to do than give me a ticket at 7am on a Sunday morning on empty US Highway 80. Then I saw in today’s paper that Iowa will have to layoff over 10 percent of their state troopers unless they find a replacement for 3 million dollars in government money. I felt bad for the troopers who may lose their job, but I was glad that they weren’t trying to make up for the budget shortfall by writing speeding tickets on my highway this morning. I’ve gotten 2 speeding tickets 6 years apart from Iowa state troopers. They were both early in the morning on my way to work on an empty highway. Worse than the fine I had to pay and the increase in my insurance rates was that I had to drive slower than I wanted for months afterward so I wouldn’t risk getting another ticket or maybe even losing my license. I’m not a habitual speeder, but sometimes on an empty road, it is easy to forget how fast you are going and besides, what danger am I posing on an empty road to anyone but myself.

  I’m sure that Iowa’s new Republican governor and legislature will find some money for the troopers since law and order is a close 3rd in Republican hearts to lower taxes (pro) and gay marriage (against). But I’ve come up with a way for our state to generate more than enough money to fund our state troopers and many other initiatives.

  I call my plan ‘SPEED FOR IOWA’. Drivers would have the option to sign their vehicles up for the right to exceed the speed limit on state highways by a set number of miles per hour when they pay their registration fees. I can see 5 miles an hour costing $50 a year, 10 miles $150, 15 miles $300, and 20 miles $500. Buyers would get a small sticker with the amount of speed they have purchased to place on their license plates to prove they can speed legally.

  If just 10,000 people bought the 20 mile an hour package, the state would collect 5 million dollars. They wouldn’t have to lay off any troopers and could even hire more. If you think 10,000 cars is a lot, keep in mind that in 2009 there were over 2 and half million registered cars, trucks, and multi-purpose vehicles registered in the state (Here is a link to the official numbers.).

  The fines for speeding tickets could be doubled or even tripled without a lot of complaints when people have already had their chance to buy their speed. The only people who would be inconvenienced are the out of state drivers. Maybe they can be sold a day pass at the state line.

  I’d pay an extra $300 dollars a year to be able to drive 80 or 85 miles an hour back and forth to work legally. I normally drive 5 miles above the speed limit and am constantly passed by cars and trucks. I don’t think I’d pay for my wife or son’s car to speed since they are normally in town, but Christmas and my 20th anniversary is coming up. I think a speed card would be a really thoughtful stocking stuffer for friends and family alike. I'd much rather receive the gift of speed that some 5-pack of lottery tickets.