If you're unlucky enough to get caught speeding over the holidays, we sincerely hope it happens in Sansom Park, Texas.
Why? Instead of doling out expensive tickets and a corresponding bump in insurance rates, the small town north of Fort Worth developed a program that presents offending drivers with a different slip of paper.
Sansom Park's program is called "Tickets For Tots" and instead of asking speeding drivers to cough up a fine, they simply ask for toys for kids. Drivers can bring their toy donations to the police headquarters, where they are collected for needy families.
"Most people aren't too happy when they see red and blue lights in their rear view mirror," Officer James Crippen of the Sansom Park Police Department told CBS-11 in Dallas. "So once they receive a Tickets For Tots, it's basically the same thing as a warning to them. It doesn't cost them anything; it kind of helps them out at the same time."
Programs like this tend to be successful both inside and outside the community they serve because, as a former state police officer notes, they provide relief to an area that every driver hates to think about.
"Programs like this tend to work well because they engender a feeling of community relations that is worth more than the revenue from the ticket," said Michael Bornhop, a former police officer in Michigan. "Not to mention, they're clearly setting themselves up for the kind of PR that, come millage or tax time, will only help their cause with their own citizens."
By any indication, the program in Sansom Park has been successful. The number of toys received by the police deparment was so great that they had to move them to the town Fire Department. So far the police department has received over 1,000 toys, some by people who simply heard about the program and wanted to donate.
"We get a lot of different reactions," Sansom Park Lieutenant Gary Hawkins, one of the firefighters who delivers toys to families, told CBS-11. "But they're all completely overjoyed getting a Christmas they didn't expect from a big shiny red fire truck."While Sansom Park's program is novel, it's not the first time we've heard of police departments taking ticket-writing in a creative direction:
- In the summer of 2009, Linden, New Jersey police officers handed out "tickets" to reward children for wearing their bicycle helmets in an effort to promote their usage. Instead of a fine, the ticket was good for a free cone from the local Dairy Queen.
- The country of Peru is set to launch a new program next year where they will write "virtual" traffic tickets for cargo and commercial vehicles that speed. In Peru every commercial vehicle is required to have a GPS, making the (rather frightening) new policy possible.
- Years ago, Gulfport, Mississippi police officers issued "safe driving" tickets for drivers they saw operating within the letter of the law or showing unusual acts of kindness on the roadways.
Don't expect your local police department to change its tune, however. It's estimated that well over 100,000 speeding tickets are written each day in the U.S. and -- for those of us who don't live in Sansom Park, Texas -- they'll cost you.
Read More about Speeding Tickets on AOL Autos:
- Get Your Speeding Ticket Paid For You
- Avoid Speeding (Especially In These Places)