Ignoring the speed limits on the road could almost be considered a national pastime. Does anyone really do 65 mph on I-65? Judging by the number of cars that zoomed past my little Geo Prizm on a trip up to Chicago recently, the answer is a resounding “no.” You may have noticed the uproar over the last few weeks regarding the Marion County Superior Court’s decision to up the price of a speeding ticket from $110 to $150. The judges voted 17-10 in favor of the $40 increase, effective Jan. 1, 2004. More recently, the 10 Democrat judges who opposed the increase have filed a petition for a special meeting to overturn the decision. As of yet nothing has come of their appeal. “One hundred and 50 dollars for a speeding fine!” I hear you exclaim. “That’s daylight robbery!” Yes, $150 is a lot of cash to fork out for being caught over the limit. I know I would be extremely annoyed if I were forced to pay that amount for doing something that pretty much every driver on the roads is guilty of at one time or another. So would it soften the blow to your wallet knowing that the extra $40 is going towards funding extra beds in our overcrowded prisons? That $40 is the daily cost of each prison bed in the Marion County Jail? In other words, every time someone is caught speeding, an extra place in the 992-bed prison is paid for. But as with all things bureaucratic it’s not quite as simple as that. Bear with me while I try to explain it in plain English. According to Marion County estimates, about 70,000 moving violations will be issued this year. About 45,000 will be for speeding, the rest for not wearing seat belts, failing to use child restraints, driving with a suspended license, etc. By these estimates more than $5 million is raised by drivers failing to do the right thing on our roads. To say the whole $40 increase will go towards extra prison beds is not entirely correct. All the money from traffic citations will go directly towards funding the prison. For deferrals $20 of the extra $40 will go towards the county prosecutor’s budget, the other $20 to the prison. “They’re hitting us with another tax,” I hear you grumble. Not so. The increase is not a "new tax"; it’s a fine for people who flaunt the road laws. Quite simply, if you don’t want to pay $150, don’t speed. Probably the most important point that has been mostly overlooked by observers of this debate is the effect higher speeding fines may have — not on our wallets but on the road. I know it’s wishful thinking but perhaps if speeding fines are high, motorists might slow down. Last year in Indiana 779 people died on our roads. Amazingly, this figure is actually the lowest ever for this state. To put this into perspective, this equates to one death on the roads every 11.2 hours. In 1999 fatalities on Indiana roads reached 1,020, or one death every 9.5 hours. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that speeding was a factor in many of these crashes. The 2002 road-fatality figure may be the lowest figure ever, but it’s still way too high. According to the Governor’s Council on Impaired & Dangerous Driving annual report, Turning the Curve, in 2000 there were 220,883 crashes on Indiana roads, or one crash every 2.5 minutes. Nearly 73,000 people were injured and the bill for the carnage was just under $2.5 billion. So if a $150 ticket won’t put you off the idea of speeding, perhaps the thought of a wheelchair and high hospital fees will. All of the Marion County judges are scheduled to meet on Nov. 14 to reconsider the proposed $40 hike in traffic ticket fines.