• Dec 27, 2010
Running into a speed trap is a gut-wrenching feeling. Regardless of whether you are going two or 20 mph over the limit, you always have to glance in your mirror to make sure Johnny Law isn't on your tail. In that spirit, a Lakeway, Texas resident is fed up with the traps in his town and has decided to fight back against them all by his lonesome. Lance Mitchell, co-founder of the website SpeedTrapAhead.org, is taking to the streets and warning other motorists about nearby speed traps.

If he's out on the road and spots a police officer in a speed trap, Mitchell will backtrack to a spot ahead of the trap, then don a bright orange "Speed Trap Ahead" t-shirt in order to alert other motorists of the waiting radar run around the bend. While the Austin American-Statesman notes that it's illegal to warn others of an enforcement action, it is not illegal to warn others when the enforcement pertains to matters of the traffic code. In fact, Mitchell believes he is doing the same work as the officers initiating the speed traps but also saving everyone money in the process. People slow down when they see him thus avoiding a ticket and a raise in insurance premiums.

Needless to say, the Lakeway Police Department doesn't exactly agree with Lance Mitchell's methods. It's fined him, jailed him and eventually the two went to court. Mitchell won and then turned around and sued the town and a few of its police officers. A confidential settlement was reached and the unemployed Mitchell can now breathe easy for a few months thanks to the cash infusion. We're guessing that it also gives him some more free time to wear his orange t-shirt...

[Source: Austin American-Statesman | Image: Corbis]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 53 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      In the picture, what is the whistle for??

      We I live motorist slam on their brakes when they see the jockeys on the side of the road. Of course it gives the jockeys something to for a while, a couple of rear ending every time.

      And if public safety was the issue, why would they try to shut this guy down, he's probably slowing more people down than the patrols are and not causing traffic accidents. Must be the revenue.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have been flashing my high beams to other drivers for years, warning them of the radar. Wheres my cash infusion????
        • 4 Years Ago
        We need more people like you!
        I also flash my lights hoping that someone may do the same some day.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I do the same, but I think that practice is becoming a lost art. Most people are probably thinking, "I don't have my high-beams on a-hole."
      • 4 Years Ago
      It is my understanding that this would not fly in California. It was explained to me that this would be considered "Interfering with Police work", which is illegal.

      Anybody know, if this is true?
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, it's actually interferring with revenue collection, a felony punishable by immediate mandatory death sentence via SWAT execution team.

        Let they say, don't try this at your home turf.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Let's start a nationwide campaign--pass this on to everyone in your contact lists:

      When driving during the day, turn lights on and off 3 times to alert oncoming traffic to a cop ahead of them.

      When driving at night, flick your lights from low to high or on/off 3 times to alert drivers.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Next you will have the police out in random spots dressed like him just walking around... I respect what hes doing but plan is a setup to backfire.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I applaud him for this.

      I appreciate everything cops do for us, but traffic enforcement is really out of hand.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Did you ever stop to think that maybe the SPEEDERS are out of control? I drive for a living and speeders try to kill me every day.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Tell me about it. This guy's my hero! I had always wanted to do this after getting my first traffic ticket.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Many have mentioned short yellow lights (to increase revenue) causing rear-end collisions. How about a little more distance between cars and the warnings we got from our driving instructors to use more caution and slow down before intersections... -don't tailgate? -Any of that ring a bell? Sometimes it actually IS our own fault when we get tickets or crash. As to red-light cams, Paradise Vly, AZ wants drivers to watch the speed limit and stop at red lights. They warn everyone passing through, and some town-folks have gotten 1 ticket (or so). But it is effective and it is what the town people voted for. On
      their very busy main road, crashes in town are down to near zero. Parking lots are where you need to worry.
      Some areas on Germany's Autobahn have speed limits and enforcement cameras. They warn you about speed limits, they warn you about cameras. Tickets arrive in the mail. The only people bitching about it are the outlaws.
      This guy with the T-shirt warning is a brave soul, actually doing good work for his fellow citizens, People slow down when they know they'll get nailed. Amazing! Now if the speeder-cops are giving tickets for 31 in a 30 or 57 in a 55, they deserve our scorn and disgust. But if they let you go when you're doing 73 in a 65, or 40 in a 35, I'd say they're not out there for the money. Unfortunately, none of us want to be told or reminded what to do, and if we're late and in a hurry or just got bitched at by a spouse or the kids we ain't in the most receptive mood and the last thing we want is a guy with a badge handing out bills. It just adds to the tension and resentment when we are in the wrong.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I used to do this in high school, but the officer and i had an understanding, on a first name basis. He understood that i was slowing my classmates down in a much easier manner. But the lunch crowd was his feeding grounds. After school i could thwart him all i wanted.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You are a superhero of sorts! That is the best vigilante justice, it helps people without directly harming anyone else. Just wish I had more time to wear a similar shirt.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well it's true they only want the money. If they wanted safety they'd revoke their licences. And why do people get rear ended? Others follow too close. There are clear safety guidlines that work! But, people don't follow them. If 85 MPH were safe they post a higher speed limit. They should enforce all safety regulations and revoke licences as well as fine them. the fines to pay the court cost , Revoking licence to insure safety. Time we americans develop a little patience and try to drive safely.
      Very_Serious
      • 4 Years Ago
      While speed traps do seem a little unnecessary, not all traffic enforcement is bad. The city I live in actually loses money on red light cameras but red light running accidents have decreased over 30% since they were installed
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Very_Serious
        "red light running accidents have decreased over 30% since they were installed"

        Really? I'd like to see how that 'study' was conducted. I highly doubt anyone took the time to actually get a large enough sample size and to prove that it was the cameras and not other factors contributing to the decrease. For example, all traffic accidents have been going down for years because of the greater availability of stability control/abs etc. What is the relative decrease compared to all accidents?

        • 4 Years Ago
        @Very_Serious
        Red light running might be down, but accidents overall went up, at least in all the studies I've read. It's because now people are stopping hard when they would've otherwise passed, and they get rear-ended.
      • 4 Years Ago
      cheers mitchell!
      • 4 Years Ago
      The public would be supportive of traffic enforcement if its objective was to reduce accidents. Few would complain if the cops used accident data to identify those areas which were proven to be accident prone and tailored their traffic enforcement appropriately. In Houston they publish the accident data but there is no sign that the most hazardous intersections get increased surveillance. It is noteworthy that this same data shows freeways as the most safe place to be. As a consequence in Houston we have an inverse relationship: the safest places get the most enforcement and the most hazardous get comparatively the least.

      My own explanation is that a cop stationed at one of these pesky intersections must continuously observe traffic to be effective. Despite the higher fines associated with running stop lights or making illegal turns many cops would prefer to watch porn on their portable DVD players and occasionally look up when the radar squawks. Those using handheld laser unfortunately have to work. For them the work around is to quickly write a few tickets to meet the unpublished quota and then they can take a porn break.

      I must admit I haven't seen the cops watching porn myself. An officer first told me about the porn and this story has since been confirmed by other officers. Now that mobile phones are video capable this habit has been both more widespread and discreet.
    • Load More Comments