News has surfaced that the Youngstown Police Department’s use of hand-held radar guns has caused the police to issue more tickets in a span of 25 days than the entire city has given out in the past year.
The YPD began using the hand-held radar guns in July. Motorists caught speeding during the radar gun enforcement period were issued warnings by mail informing them that they were speeding in a monitored area. The warnings ended on Aug. 15.
Then the tickets started.
Those caught speeding after Aug. 15 were informed by police and the media that they could expect fines of up to $150 dollars to begin piling up in their mailboxes beginning Sept. 9.
The tidal wave of monetary punishments spoke to Youngstown’s commuters, who shared the story across social networks with comments such as, “well, I’m broke,” or, “oh shit.”
Given the size of the fines, drivers have a reason to be concerned. Speeders going 13 mph over the speed limit will receive a $100 ticket per documented violation. Going over 14 to 19 mph gets a $120 ticket and 20 mph over or more gets a $150 fine.
Empty wallets tend to go hand-in-hand with community rage. Do these hand-held radars do anything but generate money for the community?
And where is all the money going?
When Mayor McNally was asked if the citations were a way to milk money from Youngstown residents, he said, “I don’t have a thought on that. There’s a fine, but we look at it as a safety issue.”
But does blindsiding drivers with hundreds of tickets make anyone safer, or does it just make them angry and broke?
Studies show that people benefit most from immediate corrections to their behavior. If a cop pulls you over on the highway, talks to you and then gives you a ticket, you’re more likely to drive slower in the future.
You’re also more likely to slow down when you see a police car positioned on the highway. It’s an immediate response to a stimulus. You see the car and hit the breaks, making a mental note that you need to slow down in that area.
Correcting behaviors weeks after they happen isn’t doing anything to permanently fix driving behaviors. Giving someone a ticket without providing any human interaction inspires rage, not change.
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