AAA Calls Three Florida Towns Traffic Traps
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ Three Florida towns were named ``traffic traps″ by the American Automobile Association on Monday, the first communities in seven years to be given the dubious distinction.
The towns of Hampton, Lawtey and Waldo lie along a 20-mile stretch of U.S. 301, southwest of Jacksonville, a major link to central Florida for motorists heading into the state on Interstate 95.
``In the case of these three towns, it appears that revenue generation is the motive for writing tickets, not traffic safety or accident prevention,″ Auto Club South spokesman Kevin W. Bakewell said.
AAA Auto Club South requested the traffic-trap designations from the national AAA after a three-month investigation. In agreeing to the designation, AAA’s 113 affiliated clubs in the United States and Canada will advise members to drive with extreme caution through the towns or avoid them.
In Hampton, population 260, police issued 294 tickets from April through July. Night Marshal Bill Tillotson said earlier this month that he’d welcome the designation.
``We’d like to have the reputation of being a speed trap,″ he said. ``Our aim is to slow people down.″
Lawtey Mayor Marvin Rosier also supports his town’s approach.
``Triple A can tell us anything they want to,″ he said. ``We are a law enforcement city.″
From April 1 through July 31, Lawtey issued 2,460 traffic citations.
In Waldo, City Manager Lee Vincent said speeders aren’t ticketed unless they are exceeding the 30-mph speed limit by 11 mph. For the four-month period ending July 31, Waldo issued 2,092 traffic citations.
``I don’t think Waldo is a speed trap,″ Vincent said. ``I could see designating something as a speed trap if you wrote tickets for one or two miles per hour over the speed limit.
AAA believes the the three cities are capitalizing on a cash cow and has asked the state attorney general to investigate.
Lawtey could collect about $369,000, or 73 percent of its budget. In Waldo, revenue projections of $313,000 represent 41 percent of its budge. Hampton can expect to bring in about $44,100, or 59 percent of its budget.
The last time AAA labeled a community a traffic trap was seven years ago, when Hanging Rock, Ohio, got the title.