Proposed Bill Aims to Crack Down on Speed Traps

Utah State Capitol 04Remember the good old days of the Soldier Summit speed trap on U.S. 89?

Well, Sen. Lyle Hillyard does.

Wednesday, Hillyard, R-Logan, introduced SB100, a bill aimed to hinder, at least, what Hillyard says is a constant speed trap on U.S. 89 in his neck of the woods – at the Mantua Town turnoffs in Sardine Canyon.

“I have so many people complaining about it,” said Hillyard, the longest serving current legislator, who makes that Logan-to-Salt Lake drive many times a year.

The Legislature acted way back in 1978 to stop the speed trap in the tiny town of Soldier Summit, where an old motel/gas station incorporated and the main town income was stopping unsuspecting drivers.

But now Hillyard says a new law is needed for the Mantua situation.

Unlike some other “speed traps” in Utah, U.S. 89 in Sardine Canyon is a large four-lane road that doesn’t run through a town.

In fact, Mantua sits off to the side of the main thoroughfare.

At least in the case of Soldier Summit, U.S. 89 was the main – in fact, the only – road in town.

“There is not a question of safety” to Mantua Town citizens, said Hillyard, by U.S. 89 drivers.

His bill says if a town’s total tax/fine income is more than 25 percent in traffic fines, then any dollar amount over that will be turned over to the state’s General Fund.

The State Auditor will audit suspected violating SB100 towns, the bill says.

“If (Mantua officials) want to write speeding tickets all the time, fine,” says Hillyard. They just won’t benefit from that over 25 percent of their budget.

The speed limit on 89 in that area is 60 mph, said Hillyard, but some Mantua cops are sitting at the bottom of hills and catching drivers who may be accelerating downhill and hitting 70 mph or more.

Hillyard said since he starting looking at the bill he’s heard of other small towns in Utah whose speeding ticketing could also be considered excessive.

“So we’re not just talking about my area – some places in Price have been complained about,” Hillyard said.

Hillyard said he has no idea how much SB100 could end up bringing into state coffers, but likely not much. It’s not really about the money, anyway.

“If you are really writing tickets to generate money” for your city, then that is the wrong reason for traffic enforcement, he added.

The main drag inside of Mantua, a small farming/recreational community, is 25 mph, said Hillyard.

“I wonder how many speeding tickets they are writing there?”

By the way, Mantua is not in Hillyard’s Senate District 25, which includes Logan and parts north, south and east of that city. So Mantua residents can’t vote on Hillyard.

Mantua is in Sen. Pete Knudson’s Brigham City-based District 17.