Traffic means money

Drunk Driving Enforcement Is A Racket:

1,600 police checkpoints may have yielded just 3,200 arrests for DWI, but they resulted in $40 million in fines, plus $30 million in overtime pay for cops and a staggering 24,000 vehicle confiscations. Assuming that there are towing and storage fees involved in those confiscations, add on even more millions that are extracted from drivers, not to mention those vehicles that end up being part of a “civil” or criminal forfeiture case.

Much of traffic enforcement is about issues that are supposed to related to traffic safety, not those issues that are directly related to traffic safety. Speed limits and speed traps are the granddaddies of this. Cell phone use as an attempt to reduce distracted driving is another. Congressional testimony today pulled out sob stories of a dead daughter with pleas to further reduce the hours of driving time for over the road truck drivers and add yet more regulations to their already thick book. Then there’s the debate about using cameras to automate citations for running red lights or speeding.

Drunk driving is another area where measures of sobriety other than driving behaviors are used to promote safety. Since so many traffic crashes are related to driving while impaired, efforts in this area have a lot of weight. The problem arises when the civil authorities tend to see the efforts as a cash cow. That is what prompts ideas such as sobriety check points that take a lot of cops off the road, catch very few inebriated drivers, but do generate a lot of income in equipment violations and other, non-DUI citations and events.

Meanwhile, much unsafe behavior on the road goes ignored – except when it gets so severe it stimulates exaggerated road rage.

Money talks. Governments want more. That is a sad place to focus entrepreneurial efforts and innovative incentives.

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