I guess just about anyone selling a product or just seeking attention these days has created a list, often ranking cities and organizations on a wide variety of criteria. Boca Raton usually pops up on these lists somewhere, with the most recent publication ranking us high on the “speed trap” list in Florida.
News outlets then legitimize these lists by using empirical terms like “study” and “researchers.” I’ve reviewed this speed trap list and developed my own top three reasons why this list is, well, “Lacking.”
1. It’s not all us. Some of the locations, like “in front of the EMT station on Lyons Rd.,” are not even located in the City. As is often the case, many well-meaning people mistakenly think some “Greater Boca Raton” areas are within our city limits, but they actually aren’t the jurisdiction of the Boca Raton Police Department. Also, remember that the term “population” does not include the thousands of people who come to our city to go to school, shop at the mall, work, enjoy the beach, etc.
2. It’s not science. The “data” was contributed by users who believed they encountered a speed trap. It doesn’t matter if an officer was working an accident or writing a report on the shoulder. If someone believed it to be a speed trap, then it was a speed trap. This data collection methodology also included the opinions of people who have no direct knowledge or exposure to the location and/or activity in question. If someone in Alaska agrees that there is a speed trap in Boca, then his vote counts.
3. It’s about the tickets. That’s what really matters, no? One of the speed trap areas mentioned was the Spanish River Boulevard overpass at I-95. Since the beginning of this year, we have written zero tickets at this location. Zip. Zilch. Nada. What about all those speeding citations in the City? I like to look at trends. Check out the numbers over the past ten years.
By the way, in all my years as a chief, I have NEVER been asked to increase our citations to generate more revenue. If there is a traffic safety problem in an area, I certainly want to see more enforcement. However, as the legislature raised your speeding fines, your police officers actually reduced the number of citations that they issued. That’s probably a consistent phenomenon across the State.
Truth be told, I really do enjoy these rankings and online quizzes. In fact, Facebook just told me that I look like Leonardo DiCaprio. As much as I would like to believe them, I’ve learned to be a little more circumspect about these online publications and their “empirical” research.
If speeding or crime is a problem in a particular area, we will be conducting enforcement there. I can assure you that staying close to the speed limit will reduce the likelihood of you actually receiving a speeding ticket or, more importantly, getting into a crash. I just made that up, but I think it’s true.
We really do take traffic safety seriously and remind you to please watch your speed. As always, let’s be careful out there.