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How Increased Traffic Enforcement Increased Government Income

Essay by   •  April 25, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  1,666 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,269 Views

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How increased traffic enforcement increased government income

The purpose of this quantitative study is to investigate how local municipalities across the U.S. have expanded their traffic law and their enforcement for the purpose of increasing revenue. Research will seek to gather information on the use of traffic ticket distribution in the context of decreasing traffic fatalities with the intent of increasing government revenue. Game theory will inform an analysis of the data obtained from the three research questions guiding the study are: 1) Does the government use traffic laws to create new revenue?; 2) How has the increase in traffic law enforcement benefitted governments economically?; and 3) Does the perception that these stricter traffic laws deter or reduce traffic fatalities validate municipalities for increasing their traffic ticket distribution? The answers to these research questions will serve to point to conclusions made about the value of increased traffic law enforcement and the revenue earned from it.

The purpose of examining this topic is not to examine the advantages and disadvantages of municipalities using traffic law enforcement to decrease fatalities and increase revenue; rather the objective is to identify how local governments do this, and to justify the research (NHTSA, 2008). As the distribution of traffic tickets and general enforcement of traffic laws takes place in urban districts because they have higher population sizes, the topic of how governments profit from traffic tickets deserves attention because it has grown so much in recent years (NHTSA, 2008).

On the surface, the expansion of traffic laws and their stricter enforcement is done to ensure traffic safety (lower accident rates, low fatalities, etc.). However, the sheer growth of revenue suggests a direct link between the number of traffic laws and their enforcement in recent years and the money made by local governments. Therefore, as more traffic tickets are distributed, it stands to question whether there is a percentage that is not justified (Depken & Sonora, 2006).

Although this issue has been increasingly debated in recent years, it has become clear that there is some connection between why municipalities have increased traffic laws and how much money they have made due to the financial state of governments across the country (Benson, Rasmussen, & Mast, 1999). However, the real question is, should governments be allowed to expand their traffic laws that enable them to enforce these laws and thereby distribute more tickets with higher fines, and should the government communicate these expectations because they impact the people.

Ultimately, this research will contribute to the growth of knowledge of between traffic laws and local economics. The goal is to help inform lawmakers to either support the current traffic laws, or develop or change traffic laws to become stricter or more fair. More specifically, the study will expand research into the relationship between traffic laws and if the government is justified in increasing their efforts in larger level enforcement.

Traffic laws

There are two competing hypotheses in the debate over traffic tickets: an increase in traffic tickets will reduce traffic fatalities, and an increase in traffic tickets is a way for governments to earn free revenue. The source of this debate is the number of traffic tickets distributed across the U.S. according to a 2012 study showing 34 million tickets issued last year (Garrett & Wagner, 2006). That is an average of 93,000 tickets per day, 3,875 per hour and 65 per minute to generate a national average of $5.1B last year. Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that studies have shown a direct link between local economy and traffic tickets.

According to a 2007 study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis on traffic tickets, local economies are significantly hurt when the number of traffic tickets distributed increases (Garrett & Wagner, 2006). The authors also concluded that "a ten percent decrease in negative revenue growth results in a 6.4 percent increase in the growth of traffic tickets" (Garrett & Wagner, 2006). The authors finally stated that "Traffic tickets provide an attractive revenue source for local governments because the amount of revenue that can be generated is often unrestricted, they provide a mechanism to capture revenue from non-residents and non-voters, and most traffic offenses possess a low-strict-liability threshold to achieve a conviction (as opposed to the higher criminal intent standard)" (Garrett & Wagner, 2006).

What this study shows is that there is cause for concern over the fact that traffic ticket distribution is growing steadily, and will continue to do so as the economy goes more and more unstable. The impact this has on local economies is that people have less money to spend in local businesses, which means that instead of the money going to the private sector, it is going to the local government. However, research has shown



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