Here is a police officer’s view of this topic:
I am a police commander in Pinellas County, Florida.
I agree with you that speed laws are not correctly de alt with. First of all, the fines that put speeding higher than all other violations do not reflect reality. Most crashes are NOT caused by speed, so I do not agree that speeding should carry the highest fines.
As far as enforcement, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A QUOTA!!!!! And insurance companies cannot give money to police agencies–that would be a gratuity, which is a conflict of interest. Both gratuities and quotas have long been recognized as unethical, and given the access to information afforded the media, police agencies cannot do anything without it being investigated and made public by the press.
You may respond that there are no official quotas, only unwritten rules about the number of citations written. Well, let me ask this. If you designed this website for somebody, you would be evaluated most likely based on the number of hits and responses, right? Everybody must be evaluated on his or her work quality and quantity, and one of the things we use to evaluate police officers is the amount of activity they initiate. For most officers, the easiest way to prove that you are initiating activity is to write tickets. Of course, they can and do get involved in other tasks, such as foot patrols, warrant arrests, building checks, etc…, and all of these things are combined to show how productive an officer is.
You also have to remember this–a very high number of fugitives and other criminals are caught as a direct result of a traffic stop. Officers use traffic stops as a tool to investigate further. Now you probably wonder why they don’t just give warnings then. Well, U.S. Supreme Court said that an officer can detain you on a traffic stop only as long as it takes to write a ticket. Therefore, if he did not write quite a few tickets, he would never be able to justify detaining somebody for those further investigations.