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Fewer Traffic Tickets Equals Safer Roads?

A town in California is trying a different approach instead of issuing traffic tickets to improving highway safety. The police have written 6,919 fewer traffic tickets in the first six months of 2011, a reduction of 84 percent.

Does this mean drivers have gone wild with less police enforcement? Hardly. Traffic accidents have declined 7 percent over the same period.

Unfortunately, driver safety is not the only reason traffic tickets are issued, which motorists know all too well. For many municipalities, traffic tickets are a very high source of revenue. The National Motorist Association (NMA) has calculated that traffic tickets generate $4.5 billion to $6 billion per year for state and local governments.

Tickets are often misused as a measure of police “productivity” and effectiveness. While they indicate the police are doing something, it may not be the best measure of effective the tickets are at addressing the underlying issues.

Quotas are disfavored or illegal, but that doesn’t mean that they are not employed by some jurisdictions. Police should have the discretion to issue tickets when conditions warrant, not because they need five more tickets to reach their “numbers” for the month.

New York ranked as fifth most unfriendly states for motorists in 2009.

In 2009, the Traffic Safety Law Enforcement and Disposition (TSLED) division of the DMV issued 4,080,449 tickets.

If the average New York traffic violation were $150, it would equal $612,067,350 of revenue. Given New York’s budget woes, it is unlikely they will want to reduce that number.

And don’t forget, if your traffic violation results in points being added to you license, if the points add up to 11 or more in an 18-month period, your license could be revoked or suspended.

If you have received a ticket for any traffic violation, speak to an experienced attorney to understand your options.