Speed Traps: Cities Relying on the Easy Income

The city with the most speed traps is Livonia, Michigan. There may be more interest in easy revenue and increasing insurance rates than the safety of drivers in the city with the most speed traps.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • In 2014, there were over 9,200 deaths caused by speeding
  • Tickets aren’t always issued to improve road safety
  • Speed traps are designed to trick motorists
  • Some cities rely on speed traps for the income

There are practically endless reasons why people speed. They could be running late, ignoring road signs, looking at their phone, dealing with kids in the backseat, thinking about work, enjoying a favorite song, feeling stressed out, or just driving a high cylinder car that accelerates without much effort.

No matter how unimportant or innocent the reason, speeding can come with an expensive price tag.

That price can be a fine, an increase in insurance, a fender bender, an injury, or the highest expense a life.

Speeding as a Business

In 2014 there were over 9,200 deaths caused by speeding. Just under 30 percent of all the road fatalities in the US probably could have been avoided if the drivers at fault hadn’t gone too fast.

Speeding is definitely a problem that law enforcement should take seriously.

Unfortunately, speeding tickets aren’t always issued to improve the safety of our roads.

Sometimes tickets are simply given for the purpose of increasing a town’s revenue. The National Motorist Association estimates that traffic tickets bring an annual profit of as high as 8 million dollars in the US alone.

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What exactly is a speed trap? 

Ever heard of a speed trap? Or worse caught in one of them? A speed trap is where the speed limit is set lower in that one spot than the average speed in the surrounding areas.

It is designed to trick drivers. These traps often get motorists who are driving at a safe speed for that road and area. Speed traps aren’t set up to catch dangerous drivers, but rather to make money with little effort.

Rising Insurance Rates

Insurance companies increase costs. When their customers get tickets, insurance companies take full advantage.

Insurance companies are well aware that a citation given at a speed trap is just that — a trap — hardly ever it is a sign of an unsafe or higher risk driver.

But, this is a good excuse for them to up your insurance costs. This is why many insurance companies donate money to their local police departments for speed detecting radar, and why these speed traps are popping up everywhere.

Now that you know the unfortunate agenda for speed traps, you should know where they are. Another disappointing fact is that these traps are prevalent all across our nation. There are currently an alarming number of them, and the amount is only increasing each year.

The 5 US Cities with the Most Speed Traps Per Capita

map of US

#5 – Reno, Nevada

In 5th out of all the cities located in our 50 states is Reno. This city has 10.4 speed traps for each of its 100,000 residents.

#4 – Denver, Colorado

Coming in 4th with 10.9 traps per each 100,000 residents is Denver.

#3 – Las Vegas, Nevada

Getting 3rd in a not-too-popular countdown is Vegas with 11.1 speed traps for every 100,000 of its residents. Luckily that per capita number doesn’t include card sharks that fly in for the weekend.

#2 – Orlando, Florida

With 17.2 speed traps for each of its 100,000 residents is Orlando. This city ranks 2nd out of all the cities in our country. Since many unsuspecting tourists get trapped here on their way to see Mickey, we should name these “Mouse Traps.”

#1 – Livonia, Michigan

With a shocking 27.9 speed traps for each of its 100,000 residents is a city that many folks haven’t even heard of, Livonia. This city gets a rather unimpressive 1st place out the just about 30,000 cities across America.

Livonia has well over double the speed traps that Reno has just 4 places behind. Michigan police units must really be struggling financially to need this many traps. The slogan here should be “Live on ya speedometer in Livonia.”

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For Safety or Income?

Law enforcement across our nation often sacrifice their own safety to maintain ours. Speeding tickets, like any other consequence for breaking a law, are important to keep American citizens in line as much as possible.

However, speed traps are usually just a way for money to change hands, and might not improve our roads at all.

These traps may only make our nation’s roadways more challenging for responsible drivers. If a driver has to be glued to the ever-changing speed limit signs, is he really watching the road in front of him?

Keep in mind how prevalent these traps are in the US, don’t forget which cities are notorious for them, and always be aware of the speed limit — especially if it seems unrealistically low.

10 Cities with the Most Speed Traps
Number of Speed Traps per 100k Residents

Complete Rankings: Top 20 Cities with the Most Speed Traps

Click here to view the interactive map.

top 20 speed trap cities




– To sort the table by category, click on header columns.

3Las VegasNevada11.1
7Colorado SpringsColorado7.2
12San Antonio (Bexar County)Texas5.3
14New OrleansLouisiana4.7
15Houston (Harris County)Texas4.0
16San Diego (San Diego County)California3.2
18San JoseCalifornia3.1
19Chicago (Cook County)Illinois1.9
20Los Angeles (Los Angeles County)California1.6
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