Given the condition of our economy, I recommend that you drive a little slower or be prepared to make a contribution to your city’s coffers. A recent study published in the University of Chicago’s Journal of Law and Economics found a “statistically significant correlation” showing that when government revenues fall the number of traffic citations rise. Study authors Thomas Garrett and Gary Wagner reviewed 14 years of revenue and traffic citation data from 96 counties in North Carolina. Their examination revealed that the number of traffic citations issued rose in the year following a drop in revenue. While we have long suspected that speed traps were motivated by something more than public safety, this study is the first to produce empirical evidence to support the hunch.
But don’t hold out hope that an economic recovery will satisfy your need for speed…the study found no significant drop in the number of traffic citations issued when revenues increased.
Garrett, Thomas A., Gary A. Wagner. Red Ink in the Rearview Mirror: Local Fiscal Conditions and the Issuance of Traffic Tickets. Journal of Law and Economics, 52:1, Feb. 2009