A speed trap is an area of a highway or road that is heavily monitored for those violating DC speeding laws. Typically, these traps are located in areas where individuals tend to speed, such as on a downhill decline and very long straight-aways or in areas where numerous accidents are reported. In any event, a police officer is set up in the speed trap area, sometimes out of view, and uses equipment to apprehend the violators. Some drivers object to speed traps on the basis of the trap being unfair, however, speed traps are completely legal in DC.
The kinds of speed traps include the use of radar or LIDAR equipment by an officer or the use of speed cameras, which do not require an officer to be present. In DC, there are several speed cameras located throughout the city, the location of which can be found online. Additionally, police officers use vehicles, such as police vans, that are equipped with hidden speed cameras. They park such vehicles on the side of the road which allows them to catch driver speeding without them knowing.
Usually, officers set up in areas where the speed limit changes or in areas such as playgrounds and schools. The police officer waits in an area that is hidden such as a parking lot, behind a billboard, or immediately after a sharp turn. Officers may also sit in unmarked cars to prevent drivers from knowing they are a law enforcement officer until it is too late to slow down their vehicle.
There is no grace period near a posted speed limit sign. Once a driver has reached the speed limit sign, they are expected to slow down the vehicle and match the posted speed limit on the sign as soon as it is passed. When there is a dramatic speed change approaching, there will generally be a warning traffic sign displaying the lower speed limit, occasionally with flashing lights, before an individual reaches the posted speed limit sign.
The purpose of speed traps is to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities. Speed traps also make drivers more cautious of their rate of speed especially in hazardous conditions, such as snow and fog.
Additionally, speed traps are used because most drivers who are speeding slow down when they see a police officer in the area. To prevent this from happening, officers set up speed traps so individuals do not have a chance to become aware of their presence and slow down.
The use of speed traps is both to prevent possible accidents by encouraging people, through the threat of penalty, to slow down as well as to make people more aware of their speed while driving.
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