LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Officer Brandon Pitcher spends a good portion of his day behind the wheel - not always driving, but watching us drive. Parked just off Versailles Road, he often sits car idling, LIDAR gun up to his eye, tracking drivers' speeds and waiting.
But he rarely has to wait for long.
"You can see everybody's pretty much going the same pace," Officer Pitcher said. "When you get someone going 70, 75, they really stand out."
Last year, Lexington police wrote 13,000 speeding tickets across the city. Through an open records request, WKYT obtained the data for each and every one of those to see when and where drivers might want to tap their brakes.
Not surprisingly, more than a third of those tickets were written on New Circle Road. (The biggest chunk of New Circle speeding tickets was written near Old Frankfort Pike - not far from the police department's West Sector Roll Call building.) Other hot spots include a stretch of Interstate 64 between mile markers 83 and 86, Paris Pike just north of Interstate 75, I-75 near the Clays Ferry bridge, and Versailles Road.
Versailles Road is where WKYT's Garrett Wymer rode along with Officer Pitcher on an overcast Thursday afternoon.
Officer Pitcher is a bit of an expert - the Lexington Police Department's top speeding ticket writer for 2019. He wrote nearly 1,000 of the city's 13,000 speeding tickets issued last year.
In his five years with the police department's traffic unit, Officer Pitcher has dealt with excuses - even flat out lies - from folks trying to get out of tickets. He has also dealt with worse.
"I've stopped them where they're stolen vehicles after stopping them for a regular speeding citation. I've stopped them for speeding, and they're DUI," he said. "You never know what you're going to walk up to."
But he remains diligent about writing speeding tickets, he says, because he has seen far too many serious crashes, deadly crashes, preventable crashes.
"I've seen firsthand what speed does," Officer Pitcher said. "If I can hand someone a citation and remind someone to slow down, it may save their life down the road. I'm hoping it would."
Not everyone driving fast gets pulled over, and officers can give warnings instead of issuing citations. The police department statistics show that there is often a little wiggle room. More than 80 percent of speeding tickets Lexington officers wrote last year were for drivers going at least 15 over the limit.
Officer Pitcher says for him it depends on the location and the situation - his tolerance is much lower in neighborhoods and, obviously, school zones - but he mainly watches for drivers going 15 mph or higher over the speed limit on New Circle and the interstates, because drivers will know they have been speeding.
"And," he said, "you can still write [tickets] until your hand falls off."
Other interesting notes:
- In 2019, police wrote just 42 tickets for people driving up to nine miles per hour over the speed limit. Hit 10 mph and that number skyrockets by more than 5,000 percent - to nearly 2,400 tickets for drivers going between 10 and 14 mph.
- The most common range for speeding tickets was 15 mph over the speed limit. More than half of the speeding tickets Lexington police wrote last year were to drivers going between 15 and 19 mph over the speed limit.
- The fastest speed someone was pulled over for driving in 2019 was 125 mph on Interstate 75 in June.
- What was the most over the limit someone was pulled over for driving? A driver was pulled over for driving 121 mph in a 55 mph zone on Versailles Road. That is 66 mph over the speed limit.
Dive deeper into the trends and top locations for speeding tickets in the Infogram embedded below.