A new study to be published in next month's Journal of Law and Economics finds statistical evidence that local governments use traffic citations to make up for revenue shortfalls. So as the economy tanks, motorists may be more likely to see red and blue in the rearview.
Study authors Thomas Garrett, assistant vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Gary Wagner from the University of Arkansas Little Rock, examined 14 years of revenue and traffic citation data from counties in North Carolina. They found that the number of traffic citations issued goes up the year following a revenue drop.
"Specifically, a one percentage point decrease in last year's local government revenue results in roughly a 0.32 percentage point increase in the number of traffic tickets in the following year," Garrett and Wagner write.
That number may sound small, but it's a statistically significant correlation, the authors say.