While the definition of a "speed trap" may differ from organization to organization and police department to police department, most New Jersey drivers explain it the same way the dictionaries do - cops hiding near a stretch of road, looking for motorists going over the speed limit.

David Oliver, Getty Images
David Oliver, Getty Images

The existence of speed traps dates back decades, and considering comments from drivers and eyewitnesses, they tend to spring up in the same locations.

While he can't speak for every state in the country, Anthony Parenti with the New Jersey Police Traffic Officers Association said speed traps are "a thing of the past" in New Jersey, even at spots where the speed limit suddenly drops on the same road.

"The old adage of a cop hiding behind a tree or hiding behind a billboard doesn't exist anymore," said Parenti, who has 60 years of experience with New Jersey law enforcement. "There is no need to hide."

He said given the technology police are equipped with, such as radar guns and lasers, they can spot a speeding vehicle from up to 2,000 feet away.

To summarize, drivers are still being watched, but the police cruisers may be in plain sight.

Whether a cop is concealed or out in the open, speed limit enforcement in some spots is meant only to generate revenue and not increase driver safety, according to the National Motorists Association.

"The worst places are where they have consistent speed enforcement, where the speed limit is seemingly artificially low, and there aren't any particular incidents of accidents to warrant the added attention," said Steve Carrellas with NMA's NJ chapter.

He said there are several New Jersey roads with speed limits below the "prevailing speed," or the average speed driven by 85% of motorists.

Carrellas continued, "You set speed limits everywhere properly, and you're not going to have a speeding problem."

Although law enforcement denies the existence of such traps, drivers continue to report sightings. The National Motorists Association web site features a public forum, state-by-state, so drivers can share their experiences with speed traps. Below are three proposed New Jersey sightings from this year.

JACKSON, 5/15/12 - Seen many officers (wait) behind the mini mart at the fork in the road, and you can't see them when you're coming from either side, until you're going past them. Heads up rounding that bend.

EDISON, 3/7/12 - Located on New Dover Rd. There's now sometimes a cop parked in the lot of John Adams Middle School

SHREWSBURY, 4/24/12 - Cop sits behind shopping center, waiting to pull over anyone exceeding 40 mph speed limit on Shrewsbury Ave. A lot of people go 50 mph.

Carrellas and Parenti confirmed that it is not illegal in New Jersey to flash your high beams at an oncoming driver in order to warn them of a cop ahead.


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