3/23/2018Towns Seek Speed Trap Cash From Group That Profits From Tickets
The National Safety Council generates revenue from speeding ticket awareness courses, then gives cities grant funding to issue more tickets.
The city council in Akron, Ohio, on Monday adopted an ordinance authorizing the mayor to ask the National Safety Council for $198,389 to pay for a speeding ticket blitz. This "Road to Zero" grant funding would be used to purchase new radar and laser speed guns and to pay police officers 150 percent of their regular salary while issuing those citations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides $3 million in taxpayer funding for the National Safety Council's grant program.
Akron seeks such support because city leaders find themselves in such dire budgetary straits that they implemented a hiring freeze earlier this month to help plug a $1 million fiscal gap. Council members quickly latched onto possibility of having outside groups fund speed trap operations that could provide a quick infusion of cash.
For several years, the National Safety Council has been a key player in the traffic ticket industry. The organization collects millions from speeding ticket recipients who take council-approved defensive driving courses to ease the hit on their automobile insurance premium. The organization claims 75 million have taken such courses since the group was founded. Ohio residents, for example, can take two points off their license by $75 and attending an eight-hour seminar.
The National Safety Council's member organizations, which includes insurance companies and local jurisdictions that hope to receive grants, also contribute millions in membership dues that have allowed the group to treat its employees generously.
CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman pocketed $616,295 from the non-profit safety group. Chief financial officer Patrick Phelan enjoyed $259,535 in salary and benefits, while the group's lowest-paid executive earned just $165,000. Key executives are entitled to bonuses contingent on how much money the council brings in, according to the group's public tax filings.
Board members and trustees are not left out. National Safety Council trustee Wade Mezey, who is also president of SafetyServe.com, the council's online training course provider, takes a cut of the revenue generated from each online course taken.
The National Safety Council has spent $1,833,564 over the last three years to lobby state lawmakers, urging them to adopt laws enhancing penalties against motorists.