New study finds that ticket quotas increase when revenues hit bottom

| 1/9/2009

A study commissioned by an economist on ticketing practices offers further proof that truckers’ long-held theory that traffic ticket “quotas” are common practice. In fact, when economic conditions are bleak, it gets worse as cities and states look to compensate for their budget shortfalls.

In February, the Journal of Law and Economics will publish a study, entitled “Red Ink in the Rearview Mirror,” which was written by Thomas A. Garrett, an assistant vice president at the St. Louis Federal Reserve, and co-author Gary A. Wagner, on the subject of local governments using traffic tickets as a revenue sources when they are strapped for cash.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said he agrees with Garrett and Wagner’s study.

“There is a correlation between the level of enforcement you see and economic activity,” Spencer told Land Line on Friday, Jan. 9. “When revenues fall off, these municipalities scramble and writing tickets is one way they can offset those costs.”

He said it isn’t just the cost of the ticket that hurts truckers – it’s all the related costs that go along with the citation.

“Besides the lost time for those unhappy recipients of the citation, there are oftentimes costs for attorneys that are related and the additional costs they occur in adjusted insurance premiums,” Spencer said.

He said truckers can realistically spend hundreds of dollars on legal fees to challenge the ticket or get the ticket modified – and while some officers say the tickets are all about safety – some insurers have found there’s no correlation between the increase in writing tickets and increased safety on the road.

“Unfortunately, this is just another hidden tax drivers incur,” Spencer said.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer