SACRAMENTO, CA - Many drivers do it every day. Others do it just when they're running late. But if you drive long enough, sooner or later, we all break the speed limit.
Readers sound off on "speed traps"
"I had no idea why he was pulling us over," said Kandy Brumley, after she and her husband Bill were recently pulled over for speeding on Interstate 80. "We were going with the flow of the traffic."
They got lucky. The officer let them off with a warning.
The best way to avoid a speeding ticket, of course, is to simply obey the speed limit. The next best way to avoid a ticket is to know the places where you are most likely to get nailed by the California Highway Patrol.
"Some of them, I know where they hide, and we know we need to stay under the speed limit," said Brumley. "And other times like today, we had no idea."
The one place where you are most likely to be pulled over for speeding is anywhere the highway opens up from two lanes to three or four lanes and there is a temptation to hit the gas. The most popular stakeout for CHP officers around Sacramento is the truck scales near Antelope Road.
"It's not uncommon out here on Interstate 80 in the Citrus Heights and Antelope area that we're getting people speeding 90, 100 miles an hour," explained CHP Officer Chris Abbott.
CHP officers do not have a quota for writing speeding tickets. And money from the fines does not go to the CHP. It stays in the county where the violation occurred.
While CHP does not set "speed traps," there are definitely areas where officers frequently patrol for speeders. In the Sacramento area these are a few of those hotspots:
The light rail station on I-80 eastbound at Longview Drive.
Interstate 5 toward Natomas, just after you cross the I-80 overpass.
Elkhorn Bouelvard coming from Rio Linda into North Highlands. The speed limit is 45 miles per hour, but drivers get busted doing 70 or even 90 miles an hour.
"I have been to at least four fatalities on Elkhorn Blvd, all related to speed," said Abbott.
Some other hotspots outside the Sacramento area:
In Stockton, Interstate 5 from Highway 12 to Eight Mile Road
In Modesto, Highway 99 near the Stanislaus County line rest area
In Auburn, I-80 from Applegate to Bell Road
And I-80 between Dixon and Davis
"In the afternoon on a Friday, traffic is moving pretty freely," Abbott said as he patrolled for speeders on a stretch of I-80. "It's not uncommon to get a car 80 plus, 90 plus, even 100 miles an hour."
The CHP uses a variety of tools to catch speeders. The newest is LIDAR, which uses a laser beam to pick out a single vehicle in a crowd of traffic and clock its speed with remarkable accuracy.
Radar can light up a group of cars at once, but it only reads the fastest speed, leaving the officer to spot the offender.
"Bumper pace" is the tried and true technique where an officer essentially "tails" a speeding car, maintaining a steady distance, to determine how fast the driver is moving.
A ticket for doing 10 or 15 miles over the speed limit will cost more than $200. Faster than 15 miles over the limit, and the ticket is likely to cost more than $300. It's a myth that you will never be busted for driving five or 10 miles over the limit. If the officer feels you're a danger to yourself or other drivers, you will get a ticket.
Where you'd like to see the CHP go after speeders
"Speeding does cause accidents, does kill people," said Abbott. "So that's our main goal: To reduce the mileage death rate."
The CHP doesn't mind giving away a few secrets. Because if it causes you to slow down, they've just made the roads a little safer.
Notable CHP speed enforcement locations:
Santa Fe Avenue, Modesto, long-stretch straight-away, commuting thoroughfare
Highway 99 south of Stanislaus county line rest area - straight-away
Town of Salida- no longer a sheriff's substation - there's a lot of speeding
Northbound Highway 99 near Elk Grove Boulevard
Highway 99 near Laguna Boulevard
Westbound Highway 50 at El Dorado Hills Boulevard
I-80 Antelope/Citrus Heights near truck scales
Elkhorn Boulevard from Rio Linda Boulevard to North Highlands - several fatalities due to speed
Madison Avenue and Manzanita Drive. There is a decline and curve. Very dangerous. Drivers seen going 60 mph in 45 mph
Del Paso Road
Longview Drive near the light rail station where carpool begins
I-5 and I-80 Natomas
I-5 at Arena Boulevard
People tend to speed
Officers often park in rest areas, weigh stations and on-ramps to assess traffic flow.
There is no specific location designated to catch speeders. Speed enforcement locations are left up to the individual officer.