I've often seen comments made here on the forum about how speed enforcement is a revenue generating tactic, not a safety enhancing measure, so I decided to do a little research. Not that I ever doubted it was true, I just wanted to be sure.
I had a job for 18 years that took me traveling all over the country; I'd work a few weeks in one town, a few months in another, ranging from Texas to Florida to Maine, so I saw quite a few towns that I could say were speed traps. However, Smyrna, Tennessee (About 15 miles south-east of Nashville on I-24) is the worst I've ever seen.
So, I got online and downloaded the town budget / financial statements the last several years.
Smyrna is a pretty typical small American town; mostly middle and some upper class, no really rough areas in the town or slums or inner city, etc. and I wouldn't be scared to walk anywhere in the town at any time of day or night. The population is 38,000.
During 2008 there were 516 serious crimes, 2,115 traffic accidents, 10,600 calls to 911, and 15,300 citations were issued.
In this time period, there were 11,700 total cases for traffic tickets and 15,500 violations, so a good percent of the tickets were for more than 1 violation, and 2,600 people went to traffic school.
11,700 traffic tickets and a population of 38,000 means 30% of the population got a ticket last year.
Traffic Related Revenue:
Traffic Court: $740,000
Traffic Reinstatements: $3,500
Traffic Late Penalties: $35,800
Traffic School: $215,800
Total: $995,100 (Income)
Traffic Court Budget: $191,299 (Expenses)
Yeah, I'd say its about revenue, not safety.
By the way, there was only $1,900 in fines related to beer sales and another $4,920 in drug related fines. I sure am glad to know that there isn't a drug or alcohol problem around here.
PS, Watch your speed in Smyrna, TN