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More Tickets, Fewer Accidents: How Cash-Strapped Towns Make for Safer Roads

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  • Michael D. Makowsky
  • Thomas Stratmann

Abstract

Traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the United States. The role of traffic law enforcement in the reduction of accidents has been studied by relatively few papers and with mixed results that may be due to a simultaneity problem. Traffic law enforcement may reduce the number of accidents, but police are also likely to be stricter in accident-prone areas. We use municipal budgetary shortfalls as an instrumental variable to identify the effect of traffic citations on traffic safety and show that budgetary shortfalls lead to more frequent issuance of tickets to drivers. Using a panel of municipalities in Massachusetts, we show that increases in the numbers of tickets written reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents and accident-related injuries. The findings show that failure to control for endogeneity results in a significant underestimation of the positive effect of law enforcement on traffic safety.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Makowsky & Thomas Stratmann, 2011. "More Tickets, Fewer Accidents: How Cash-Strapped Towns Make for Safer Roads," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(4), pages 863-888.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/659260
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gregory DeAngelo & R. Kaj Gittings & Amanda Ross & Annie Walker, 2016. "Police Bias in the Enforcement of Drug Crimes: Evidence from Low Priority Laws," Working Papers 16-01, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
    2. Molitor, Ramona, 2017. "Publicly announced speed limit enforcement and its impact on road safety: Evidence from the German Blitzmarathons," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-75-17, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    3. repec:bla:scotjp:v:64:y:2017:i:5:p:467-482 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Michael Makowsky & Thomas Stratmann, 2014. "Politics, unemployment, and the enforcement of immigration law," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 160(1), pages 131-153, July.
    5. Dionne, Georges & Liu, Ying, 2017. "Effects of Insurance Incentives on Road Safety: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in China," Working Papers 17-1, HEC Montreal, Canada Research Chair in Risk Management.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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