Pick a number between 0 and 100. That’s the game cops are allowed to play when giving out speeding tickets. A recent decision by the Ohio Supreme Court has just ruled the police officers can now give traffic citations by using his or her best guess on how fast a vehicle is going.
Radar guns are going to be put away in their holster, now that cops can say you’re going over the posted speed limit. There’s no trick to it – there’s no timing of cars over fixed distances, no special methods of determining an actual speed, no stopwatches required. All they need is an “educated” guess.
“There is no formula to apply,” said Robert Fiatal, executive director of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission. “It’s kind of a dead-reckoning kind of thing.”
State standards call for officers to use four principles to estimate vehicle speeds: their own knowledge and experience in watching traffic, watching vehicles move past stationary objects, seeing if a vehicle is moving in an unusual way like bouncing or the driver is driving erratically.
There’s not very much training required to properly assess a vehicle’s speed just by watching it. In fact, visual assessment is a small portion of the five-hour course on traffic enforcement. In that part of the course, instructors bring recruits to various traffic situations and have them guess speeds, while the instructor uses the radar on the vehicle in question so the recruit can compare results.