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

  • Michael D. Makowsky


    (Department of Economics, Towson University)

  • Thomas Stratmann


    (Department of Economics, George Mason University)

Traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the U.S. 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 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 number of tickets written reduce motor vehicle accidents and accident related injuries. The findings show that failure to control for endogeneity results in a significant underestimation of the positive impact of law enforcement on traffic safety.

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Paper provided by Towson University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2009-02.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision: Jun 2009
Handle: RePEc:tow:wpaper:2009-02
Contact details of provider: Postal: Towson, Maryland 21252-0001
Phone: 410-704-2959
Fax: 410-704-3424
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