Does the Highway Patrol Keep Us Safe?

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Does the Highway Patrol Keep Us Safe?

#1  Postby GT2211 » Mar 29, 2011 7:48 pm

http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/03/28/ ... p-us-safe/
In that year, the Oregon Legislature mandated an approximately 35 percent cutback in state highway patrolmen for budget reasons. What effect did this have on accident rates?

DeAngelo and Hansen report that in the three years after the layoffs, statewide traffic fatalities rose by 19 percent, incapacitating injuries rose by 14 percent, and visible injuries rose by 12 percent compared to the three year period before. This is especially striking given that, nationwide, the fatality rate per vehicle mile traveled actually fell by 3.7 percent during the period under study.

Other characteristics that might have to do with accident rates—miles driven, precipitation, snowfall, and the number of young drivers on the roads—stayed about the same before and after the layoffs.

Summary statistics of this type can be misleading, so the authors used some fancy econometrics, the details of which I won’t bore you with. The upshot is that, controlling for other factors, for each one percent drop in the number of state troopers, road deaths on highways outside of cities (where state troopers do most of their work) rose about 0.32 percent, incapacitating injuries rose about 0.23 percent, and visible injuries rose about 0.26 percent


The study is linked in the article.
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Re: Does the Highway Patrol Keep Us Safe?

#2  Postby Steviepinhead » Apr 21, 2011 2:20 am

The highway patrol does serve a prophylactic function in that, while hanging around performing their revenue-raising task of citing speeders, they do also pull some small percentage of the most obviously drunk or disruptive drivers off the road.

Their other main function is to react to accidents, performing traffic control, very basic first aid, and summoning more capable aid.

Both aspects may serve to somewhat reduce injuries. Also, drivers may adjust their own behavior based on their perception of how many troopers are on the road or just off the roadside monitoring speed.

None of this means that state troopers couldn't more effectively reduce accidents and injuries and increase safety by shifting their mission from revenue enhancement (monitoring speeders) to proactively managing a wider range of driver behaviors (fast lane squatters, dispersing clots of cars that build up in urban areas and other bottlenecks and take a while to disperse, and so on and so forth...).
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Re: Does the Highway Patrol Keep Us Safe?

#3  Postby Grimstad » Apr 21, 2011 2:45 am

Well I don't know about their effectiveness but I do know I would rather get pulled over by a Washington State Patrol officer than ANY other cop. They are much more professional and I don't think I've ever met one with a chip on his (or her) shoulder. I think they really have a higher standard than any other force I've dealt with.

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