A 'breakdown' up on I-95? Better watch your speed

By Phil Santoro | April 6, 2006

Do Massachusetts State Police use deceptive tactics to catch speeders? One of our readers says they do, and he's warning other motorists to slow down on Interstate 95 in the Newburyport area.

Those who frequently travel the stretch of highway between Peabody and the New Hampshire state line know that it isn't difficult to exceed the 65 miles per hour speed limit. Often the road is wide open, and now that it has been repaved it's easy to forget just how fast you're going. It seems State Police troopers are just as aware and are stepping up their enforcement of the speed limit.

Writing on March 23, Drew from Newburyport reports: ''I saw the worst tactic ever displayed by the Mass. State Police this morning. On I-95, just after the Scotland Road exit, there was a maroon Ford Taurus parked on the right with its hood up. Two people were standing by the back door. As I passed by, there was a marked State Police cruiser parked in front of the Taurus. The cops were using the open hood to hide the cruiser and trick you into thinking it was just a broken-down car. The two people at the back were troopers and one was shielding the other while he held his laser gun. Sneaky, sneaky.

''Over the last two months," Drew continues, ''the amount of State Police on I-95 has been the heaviest that I have ever seen. It's mostly on the southbound side in the morning, but you would all be wise to watch your speed from Newburyport to Peabody and vice versa. I've gone through their traps at 75 with no reaction, but I would consider that the allowed limit."

Lieutenant Eric Anderson, a State Police spokesman, says he is not aware of the incident Drew cites, but says he doubts troopers are employing such tactics.

''There's really no need for it, because the laser guns have such great range," Anderson said. ''You wouldn't have to do something like that."

Also, he said, ''There are so many speeders out there that it wouldn't be hard" to catch them without resorting to subterfuge.

The speed guns, he said, can shoot a 3-foot-wide laser beam for about 1,000 feet, making it easy for troopers to detect speeders before the drivers notice them. Anderson agrees that there may be increased State Police presence on that stretch of I-95. ''That's a corridor they're concerned about," he said, ''because there's a lot of speeding, and there have been lots of accidents up there."