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New York traffic tickets on the rise

We expect numbers statewide to reflect what the numbers in Central NY show for the first part of 2009—an increase in the number of traffic tickets issued.

Speeding tickets are up 30% in 2009 according to ticket information from State Police Troop D, which covers all of Central New York

From January 1st to May 1st, Troop D saw the following increases as compared to the same time period last year:

  • Seat belt tickets (adult) up 12%
  • Seat belt tickets (child restraint) up 15%
  • Equipment violations up 27%
  • Speeding tickets up 32%

Overall the increase in the number of traffic citations was 21%.

The Troop D Captain claims he has never been told to go out and write more tickets because the state needs more revenue and that there is no traffic ticket quota.  He attributes most of the increase to a new traffic management team of 10 troopers and one sergeant.

We’ll never know for sure the exact reason for the increase, but I’m not so sure it’s just a matter of increased enforcement.  Consider the following simple logic:

1.  The economy is bad.

2.  There are plenty of drivers on the road who regularly commit traffic violations that are both measurable (such as exceeding the speed limit or failing to signal) and a matter of judgment (such as “unsafe” lane changes or following “too close”).

3.  Each individual violation charged by a trooper that results in a conviction typically has an $85 state surcharge attached.

4.  Each motorist who accumulates six or more driver license points is subject to state driver assessments starting at $300.

5.  State Legislators have previously flat out admitted they are using NY drivers to help raise revenue for general purposes.  The statement in support of a recent bill to double certain DMV fees was simply that “The State is facing a significant budget deficit”.

I’m not claiming that bad tickets are necessarily being written and we’re not opening a discussion about whether more tickets lead to safer roads.  That said, do I think the current state of the economy is at very least a contributing factor (and more likely the driving force) behind the increased number of enforcement officers, decreased margin of error for motorists and increase in the number of traffic tickets issued?

Yes, I do.

Thanks to WSRY-TV 9 out of Syracuse for the original story.

Submitted by Scott Feifer