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Municipal radar--safer roads or more speed traps?

Because highways are so integral to how we live in the U.S., issues affecting all aspects of highway transportation are political. From how we fund road projects, to where they should be built to the safety equipment required in vehicles, are all matters that can become political when they are proposed or implemented.

Highway safety is always a great concern, with thousand killed and millions injured in car accidents every year. While everyone can agree that reducing these deaths and injuries would be a good thing, consensus and agreement tend to break down when particular topics come up for discussion.

Enforcing speed limits is necessary, but how that is best accomplished is cause for debate. For instance, a Pennsylvania state representative is introducing legislation that would allow municipal police to use radar guns to measure motorist's speeds and enforce speed limits.

Currently, only the state police are allowed to use radar guns. While local police, like those in Chambersburg, can use other methods, such as timing vehicle travel with a stopwatch or following a suspected vehicle and matching their speed, a radar gun is easier to set up and operate.

On the other hand, they need to be used with care, and they must be properly maintained to ensure their measurements of speed are accurate. Opponents also worry that they permit easy speed traps and become an attractive tool to raise fines, distracting police from dealing with more important safety issues.

Another issue is the proper setting of speed limits. A too low a speed limit encourages speeding and would facilitate the implementation of speed traps, but may not really enhance safety.

Speeding is dangerous and leads to deadly car accidents. We hope whatever conclusion the legislature reaches, it ultimately makes the roads of Pennsylvania safer.

Source: News Observer, "Radar guns a hot-button Pa. political issue," Andrew Scott, Pocono Record, June 21, 2014

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