-{Continuing thoughts from St. Matthew’s Popsicle Stand
The Badged Highwaymen series}-

Counterpoint, from Slate’s Tom Vanderbilt:

The consequences of not issuing tickets were shown in a recent study of traffic violations in New York City. From 2001 to 2006, the number of fatalities in which speeding was implicated rose 11 percent. During the same period, the number of speeding summons issued by the NYPD dropped 11 percent. Similarly, summonses for red-light-running violations dropped 13 percent between 2006 and 2008, even as the number of crashes increased. As an alternative approach, consider France, where the dangerous driver is as storied a cliché as a beret on the head and a baguette under the arm. As the ITE Journal notes, since 2000, France has reduced its road fatality rate by an incredible 43 percent. Instrumental in that reduction has been a roll-out of automated speed cameras and a toughening of penalties. For example, negligent driving resulting in a death, which often results in little punishment in the United States, carries a penalty of five years in prison and a 75,000-euro fine.

The “folk crime” belief helps thwart increased traffic enforcement: Why should the NYPD, whose resources and manpower are already stretched, bust people for dangerous driving when they could be going after murderers? Well, apart from the fact that more people are killed in traffic fatalities in New York City every year than they are in “stranger homicides,” there is the idea, related to the link between on-and-off-road criminality, that targeting traffic violators might be an effective way to combat other crimes. Which brings us to the third benefit of traffic tickets: increased public safety. Hence the new Department of Justice initiative called DDACTS, or Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety, which has found that there is often a geographic link between traffic crashes and crime. By putting “high-visibility enforcement” in hot spots of both crime and traffic crashes, cities like Baltimore have seen reductions in both.

Jericho, Arkansas. Even putting aside the violence (and let’s also put aside the demographics of the town, please), you still have a town doing what hundreds of little towns do across the country. Even to the extent that traffic stops do help save lives, there are clearly cases where that is not the primary reason for doing so. Further, the problem with the “Random Use Tax” idea posited above is that (a) the fact that most people won’t get a ticket any given year makes opposition to the tax relatively minimal and (b) it’s a tax primarily levied on outsiders. Further, as Web has pointed out in the past, when cops do start profiteering, invites mistrust between officers and the population they’re theoretically serving. People doing no harm should have nothing to fear from the cops. People doing no harm still feel that moment of terror when they see flashing blue lights come on behind them, even if they’re not breaking the law and the lights are meant for someone else.

Further, the notion of pulling people over for speeding leading to arrests in other crimes… well that’s certainly a benefit. Of course, you could also get the same results with random pull-overs, strict racial profiling, and a lot of other ways. Checkpoints have their uses, too. Of course, there are Constitutional questions if the person hasn’t done anything to warrant a pull-over. The solution to that, I would say, is to make so many rules that it becomes virtuously impossible to follow all the rules. My brother was pulled over once for “changing lanes too quickly”. An acquaintance was pulled over for “driving too close to the curb.” There are cases where you literally cannot change lanes without doing so within 100 feet of an Intersection. And so on, and so on. I’m not saying that these rules don’t have their function, but to the extent that they’re used to check people out for other crimes… I’m just not entirely comfortable with that.

-{Badged Highwaymen, Again, by Trumwill}-
-{Badged Highwaymen, Again, by WebGuy}-

Category: Courthouse, Road

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One Response to Badged Highwaymen, III

  1. thebastidge says:

    Comments here.

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