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Creative Speed Enforcement

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Creative Speed Enforcement

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
August 30, 2008

Woodstock Traffic

Just how "creative" should a police department be in catching speeders?

A problem area in Woodstock, Ill. is eastbound Lake Avenue from Route 14 by 3 Brothers Restaurant to U.S. 14 by Farm & Fleet. The first stretch of 40MPH speed zone is two lane; i.e., one lane in each direction. Not much of a problem there, unless some impatient idiot decides to risk life and limb to pass a vehicle that is already traveling at the posted speed limit.

But, when the roadway "opens up" by the west driveway of Wal-Mart to four lanes (two lanes in each direction), watch out. Eastbound drivers in the morning view that extra lane as their pathway to NASCAR stardom.

I tend to remain in the left lane from Wal-Mart's west driveway to the light at Catalpa Lane, when I am planning to turn left onto eastbound U.S. 14. Why move over to the right lane for three blocks and then have to fight my way back into the left lane, so that I can turn left? After all, I'm moving at the speed limit. There shouldn't be anyone trying to pass me; right?

Wrong! Drivers use the right lane for a high-speed passing lane and then cut back into the left lane for the left onto U.S. 14.

Last Thursday morning was no exception. Not just one, but two cars cruised past me in the right lane and got through the changing light at Catalpa, where I stopped on the red.

And what two cars were right in front of me, after I got the green at Catalpa and pulled up at U.S. 14? The same blue Pontiac (License G22 3223) and grey Honda (License G97 6237). And the driver of the blue Pontiac was only going to some business or office on Lake Shore Drive, north of U.S. 14; late for work maybe? (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

And the grey Honda? The driver got stuck in the right lane on U.S. 14 behind a slow-moving tractor-trailer at the red light by Culver's. Karma took care of that one!

Now, how creative could the Woodstock Police Department be in catching speeders? There is no place to "hide". Parking a marked squad car by American Community Bank isn't going to work. But what will work is putting a cop with a radar gun on one of the City's riding lawn mowers and letting him sit facing traffic. With the range of radar guns, he'll easily capture the speed before the driver figures out that it's a cop on the mower, not a City Public Works employee.

Radar guns have an intermittent feature now, so that they are not "on" all the time. A radar detector won't pick up the signal until it's too late. In fact, maybe Woodstock ought to pass a City ordinance prohibiting the use of radar detectors. No one spends $200-300 on a radar detector unless s/he is a perpetual speeder.

How do I know my speed is accurate? I used to think that speedometers were a pretty good measure of speeds. Now I use my GPS for a more accurate indicator of my speed.

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