Apparently locals are wise to the Turbeville scam. “Oh yeah, I know to go thirty-five in Turbeville,” said a lifelong South Carolinian with whom I shared my tale of woe. “That’s a town of 700 people, and that’s how they pay for their police force.” (It has 720 people and a three-person police force, whereas its fire fighters and emergency rescue team are volunteers.) The influx of out-of-state journalists was certainly a bonanza.
Other journalists have their own stories of primary state speed traps. One reporter from a political web site got pulled over in LeMars, Iowa on Highway 752. The speed limit goes from seventy to fifty-five to thirty-five in a short space, stops at a stoplight, and then goes up to seventy again. Near Ames, Iowa several reporters were caught in a speed trap on I-35 when the speed limit drops and there’s a cop hanging out just past where it changes.
A frequent question among reporters who get speeding tickets while racing from one event to the next is whether they can expense them. After all, they were incurred in the line of duty, trying to satisfy the dueling masters of going to campaign stops, filing stories, and not getting lost in a foreign land. In general, though, the consensus is that you can’t.
Campaign reporting involves other unexpected costs that are ultimately passed on to the publications, such as the extortionate price charged by rental car companies for returning to a different city than you departed from, and the various penalties one incurs when making and changing travel plans on the fly.
But it’s good business for the early primary states. The South Carolina Republican Party boasts that the event brought an estimated $20 million of spending from visitors to the state. They did not respond to an inquiry as to whether this includes speeding tickets.