3 things from the Spadea show: Up with fast driving, down with ticket quotas, double-down with hecklers
We wrapped up this week discussing topics ranging from a push to increase the speed limit to whether cops should have ticket quotas. We were also joined by comic Tommy Johnagan. Today was a nice way to end the week!
Let’s push to increase the speed limit
I love the idea of raising the speed limit in New Jersey. Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth, called in to discuss his proposal to do just that. An opportunity here: Have electronic speed limit signs, and have speed limits be reflective of the time of day.
O'Scanlon said it's an "absolute mess" that people routinely drive 10 miles per hour over the posted limit — leading to dangerous differentials between people "slavishly trying to adhere to the artificially low speed limit" and others going with the flow of traffic.
"When you have less of a differential of speeds, you have less overtaking, and less other maneuvers that are more hazardous," he said.
What about the argument that a higher limit will just push everyone's speed even higher?
"When we did the speed limit increase here in New Jersey from 55 to 65 — and I was very involved at that time — we heard the same lame argument you hear now," O'Scanlon said. "'Oh, people will just drive faster.' Didn't happen. ... The average speed increased by an average amount of a mile an hour, maybe two in some places. In some areas, it actually went down."
PBA President Pat Colligan, in the studio, said a higher speed limit wouldn't make sense in densely trafficked areas like Woodbridge on the Garden State Parkway. But further South? Maybe on parts of Route 195 or 295?
"I could see 70 mph," he said.
"A lot of people write themselves the tickets when the officers come up to the car," Colligan said. A courteous driver with a good record might be given a break — but "every officer has their click, what's going to (cause them to) issue a summons," he said.
But caller Jamie in Mountainside said he remembers a time when speed limits were 55 mph — and "everybody on the Parkway, Turnpike was pushing 65, 70 (mph)." But now, he said, drivers go much faster.
"There's times I'm in the right lane doing 80 on the Parkway, and people are right on my backside, they're going around me," Jamie said. "You know — for the assemblyman to save the roads are safer since we increase the speed limit, I think a big contribution to that is that vehicles are safer now. ... If you increase it by 5 miles, everyone will start driving 85 or 90."
Caller Bill from Hamilton told us the speed limits should go up because "we've got to keep the traffic moving." Jersey drivers, he said, know what they're doing. And State Troopers, he said, are great about practicing discretion.
"I've been in so many states. Jersey drivers get it. ... And we are this good because we have so much traffic," he said.
No ticket quotas
Should cops get higher marks for handing out more tickets? I don't think so, and neither does Colligan.
"The old joke is when you walked up to a car, and someone says 'Oh, there's a ticket quota,' you say, 'Nope. I can write as many as I'd like to,'" Colligan said.
But Colligan said the idea of hard ticket quotas is a matter of false perception. There is a related issue, though, he said.
In 2011, state law capped on the year-to-year growth of property taxes — "and some chiefs get pressure from their towns, from their mayors and their councils, to increase revenue. You can't increase it through taxes. You can increase it through tickets."
And he said while the "vast majority of chiefs" don't subscribe to that policy, some of them do put more pressure on their officers to issue more tickets.
He said officers should find a "good average and good median" that becomes part of their monthly routine — but he wouldn't want chiefs giving officers required minimums.
Tommy Johnagin: “I forget about my hecklers”
Last Comic Standing and Late Show with David Letterman comedian Tommy Johnagin told us about a life filled with hecklers.
"Sleep is a luxury," he said. "I have a 6-month-old daughter. I have hecklers all the time .I forget my hecklers. I don’t want them to win. I like to talk at you and have you laugh. I will shut them down right away. I will determine if they are being malicious. I have a short fuse for that.”
He even discussed coming second place in Last Comic Standing: “I’m with Cam Newton. How can you not be upset when you lose? I was 8 when I said when I want to be on Letterman. The only credit I had was dropping out of college. The hardest thing is losing.”
Johnagin also gave away tickets to Lisa from West Windsor, who took a shot at her best joke.
The joke: What do you call a pile of kittens?
Tommy Johnagin will be performing live at the Stress Factory Friday and Saturday nights.