I was channel surfing when I heard Fox News air a short segment on how speeding ticket infractions increase when local budgets fall on hard times. If you’re curious, the story fell between calling Bush a hero for his Iraq policy and blaming the entire Mark Foley scandal on Democrats.
The report cited a new study by the Federal Government that analyzed local governments in one US state. The study showed that for every one-percent decrease in local tax revenues, moving violations increased by .38 percent.
Interestingly, when tax revenues increased with a positive economy, the amount of tickets didn’t increase.
The study normalized for factors such as population growth and changes in roads and commuting patterns. It also established that the areas studied had absolutely no policy or request, formal or unofficial, by local elected leaders or policial sherrifs to offset declining revenues with increased tickets.
What is not immediately evident is if the number of tickets increased without an increase in “pull-overs,” or if the pull-overs increased as well. In addition, the report didn’t specify if the average speed of infractions increased.
The Four Wheel Drift will go out on a limb and predict that there are two factors at play. The first is that police officials do indeed try to boost revenues by issuing more tickets during a down economy, because police departments are often hardest hit by budgeting cuts at the local level. Even if there is no policy to do so, officers generally perceive that if they write more tickets their precinct’s budget will be positively affected. Bottom line: more money for the budget equals increased job security.
Secondly, people are certainly worse drivers during an economic downturn. When the economy slides, people lose jobs, lose houses, become frustrated, drink more, work more for less pay, and generally are more frustrated. Busy, frantic, upset people make fast, aggressive, crappy drivers.
We’ll try to get our hands on some more of the facts presented in this story. In the mean time, let’s keep our speed down. Fox News says the economy is great at all levels, but the four other cable news stations disagree.