Small North Texas town tops list in speeding-ticket revenue

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by DAVID SCHECHTER / WFAA

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

wfaa.com

Posted on March 23, 2010 at 10:51 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 24 at 7:22 PM

Westlake, Texas

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WESTLAKE — State records show Westlake collects more speeding ticket revenue per resident than anywhere else in the state. Does that make it a speed trap? Authorities in Westlake say "no."

WFAA takes a closer look at which communities write the most speeding tickets in North Texas and why they say it's not about the money.   

A one-man transportation watchdog, Aren Cambre said he thinks North Texas drivers usually get a raw deal.

"I believe in good government," he said.

Cambre used state statistics to compile a list of communities that write a high number of tickets but have a small population.

"If you're a city and you only have two or three exits on a freeway and clearly you're spending a good amount of enforcement time on the freeway, who are you protecting?" he said.

That's a good question for the wealthy Tarrant County town of Westlake, located along State Highway 114. Its 2008 population was 211. Using that figure, Westlake's speeding-ticket revenue was calculated at more than $42,000 per citizen in an eight-year period, Cambre said.

Compared with $191 per citizen in Dallas, that's a lot of dough.

Westlake contracts with Keller for police services.

"No, I don't think you can call it a speed trap," said Keller police Chief Mark Hafner.

While motorists suspect speed traps exist, and police always disagree, there is an interesting trend in the state speeding ticket data. Almost all of the local communities on the top 40 ticket revenue list have at least one major highway running through them.

High on that list are Pantego and Dalworthington Gardens along Interstate 20, Wilmer and Ferris on Interstate 45 and Alvarado on Interstate 35W.

Hafner said with several large corporate campuses, the population of Westlake swells to more than 10,000 during the day and at least 30,000 cars pass through the town every day on Highway 114.

"When we took over policing in 2002, Highway 114 had three to four fatals a year," Hafner said. "In the last two years, we have not had one fatal accident on Highway 114."

It's hard to argue with those numbers,  but Cambre has come to his own conclusion. When driving through a small town on a  major freeway, be extra careful.

"Just be aware of the cities that are generating the most revenue per citizen," he said. "Draw your own conclusions, but it's good to know it. They may be on the route to visit your parents."

E-mail: dschechter@wfaa.com

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