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Critic of police speed traps drives some wild

Ever hear the line about whether a falling tree makes a sound if nobody’s in the forest to hear it?

Well, is a speeder really speeding if a cop isn’t there to hand out a ticket?

Some drivers apparently think not. That’s why there’s a Web site like www.speedtrap.org — which I wrote about last week — where people can swap tales and locales of their less-than-favorite speed traps in hopes of avoiding hot spots for cops. Many more thoughts about speed-trapping came from you all and have filled my e-mail "in" box in recent days.

Like this random response from Don Forsythe, who doesn’t think Las Vegas speed traps are a bad thing. You may think it’s easy for him to take that stance, since he lives in Tennessee. But he claims to spend around 100 days a year in Southern Nevada, and he doesn’t like what he sees.

"Let me tell you, nothing I have seen comes close to the disregard for speed limits I see in the Las Vegas area," he said. "On the rare occasion I see a vehicle on the side of the road with the flashing lights of a police cruiser behind it. I have to think, ‘My Lord, how fast could that one have been going to actually get pulled over?’

"Don’t let anyone say people in Las Vegas exceed speed limits because the speed limits are too low," Forsythe said. "The reason there are so many who disregard the speed limits is simply that there are so many who think of no one but themselves and totally disregard the safety and well-being of others.

"Las Vegas is a city of selfish people behaving selfishly," he said. "The outrageous driving we see is a result of that."

Ya think?

No way, said Bob Garcia. "The city has a wide, wide discrepancy between set speed signs that bear no relation to the danger or type of streets involved," he said.

He cites Bermuda Road near Windmill Lane, which he says is a wide street bisecting walled-off neighborhoods.

"That would seem to promote higher speed limits. Forget that. It’s usually used to gather a wealth of speeding tickets," Garcia said. "Whoever runs transportation must wear blinders."

I think some everyday drivers do, too, judging by their behind-the-wheel habits.

B.L., who asked that I not use his name "since I don’t want to be targeted by the traffic cops," agrees with Forsythe that many of our drivers are "seemingly suicidal." Why would the cops be angry? Read on.

"Having said that, I am incensed that resources are being used by Capt. (Tom) Conlin (who heads traffic enforcement for Las Vegas police) to pick off the ‘low-hanging fruit’ such as people who may drive 40 mph on (35 mph) Alta Drive or my favorite ridiculous speed trap, on Harmon (Avenue) between Jones and Decatur (boulevards), where there are four lanes and the speed limit is 25 (mph)."

Methinks police might not look too kindly on those words.

Instead, B.L. wants police to crack down on drivers at "major dangerous intersections," such as parts of Sahara Avenue — an area that, in fact, traffic cops have cracked down upon over the past year or so — and deter some of the rampant red-light running that we all see going on around the valley.

"These are the people that are going to cause traffic deaths, not the people going 40 mph on Alta or on Harmon," B.L. said.

Unless the speeders on Alta or Harmon run red lights too, I suppose.

Jim Whitcraft is less worried about "speed traps" and more concerned about "death traps" on Interstate 15.

"The 55 mph limit from Primm to Jean and beyond amounts to a death trap. No one in their right mind would drive that slowly on that stretch of I-15," Whitcraft said. "The likely result would be to get rear-ended by a state trooper, or anyone else still doing more than 75 (mph)."

Whitcraft wonders how such work zone speed limits are set.

"How do we get this process to be more reasonable?" he asked. "As it is now, we (are) all just criminals in a quest for survival on I-15."

That’s why I’d rather fly to L.A.

Ralph Marsh thinks it was a bad idea that we let people know about the speed trap Web site. "My belief is that many of the persons and groups who create these type (of) Web sites are simply socially deprived and looking for a way to feel important."

Besides, Marsh believes the Web site actually helps the cops, not speeders.

"When they identify a ‘speed trap,’ they have conveyed to their reader that cops are present and they will give you a ticket," Marsh said. "They dramatically increase the efficiency of the speed reduction effort by making people believe cops are there all the time. They are not.

"Cops sitting miles away in another ‘speed trap’ are smiling broadly as they think about the driver across town doing the speed limit because they think cops are hiding in every driveway," Marsh said.

They’re not? Geez, I must be getting paranoid.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call the City Desk at 383-0264, or send an e-mail to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number.

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