What’s It Worth?
How Much *Safety* Results From Radar Traps?
Greetings, dear reader, as the work in Bay City, Michigan continues and my garden withers from the drought and the heat. On the way here today, when I exited the I-75 expressway, I noticed a Michigan State Trooper, in a full size Tahoe (or was it a Suburban?) parked facing the wrong way on the shoulder of an overpass. Curious, I paid close attention and noticed that the engine was running, the windows were all closed except the driver’s door, and he was aiming a radar detector at northbound vehicles after they passed under him. Which got me to thinking, how much does all this cost? And what is it worth?
We all want to be able to travel safely. But the cost side of things kept nagging away at me. There were two occupants in that Tahoe, sitting on the overpass, and according to this , a state trooper in Michigan on average makes a base salary of $18,000. With @2000 hours in an average salary year, let’s see: 18,000 dollars(per year)/2000 hours(per year) X 2 “agents” in the Tahoe = $18/hour for personnel.
An average Tahoe price here is $45,000, and that doesn’t include the special police package necessary to sit around on overpasses with the engine running and the air conditioning on, munching donuts. So if one estimates the payments on a three year loan that comes out as: $15,000 (per year)/ 12 months/year X10%interest = about $1375 per month in payments. How much for insurance? Lets just call that an even $1200 per year as a *WAG*, which is a nice way of saying I don’t know, but that is an extra hundred bucks a month.
And then there is the fuel. I know for a fact that one gets zero miles per gallon sitting still watching the cars go by and the empty donut bags pile up. And these vehicles get 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, but they don’t do that when they are chasing a speed limit violator. Let’s just say they only burn one tank of gas per day, that is 26 gallons X $3.67 (per gallon) = $95 and some change, but it is taxpayer money so we don’t count the change.
So, real roughly, it cost the people of Michigan about 18 bucks for two *agents* plus 6 bucks for car payments, plus 3/8 bucks in insurance, plus 12 bucks in fuel, per hour to be surveiled to keep travellers safe on the freeway. Let’s see, that is 18 + 6 + 0.375 + 12 = $36.375/hour for this “protect and serve” service. It is probably higher as these guys need some supervision, and office help, maintenance on the vehicle and other overhead, but real roughly I think it really costs $36.375 per hour to purchase this *service*.
Not that it ever happened to me but I heard once, somewhere, that a speeding ticket costs like um about in the neighborhood of um like 75 fat green ones. You know for a casual, run of the mill *you’re over the limit* speeding ticket, which would indicate that these guys sitting on the overpass ought to be writing at least two tickets per hour to cover their costs. And from my own personal experience, I bet that they really are writing that many tickets, judging by the number of vehicles I see pulled over alongside the highway.
It just got me to wondering if it was all worth it. This was just one instance. And if someone was travelling faster than the posted limit and these guys were not there to witness it, would that be any less safe? Would it be any more efficient? Why am I posing these silly questions?
It just didn’t seem fair that they were setting up with radar pointed in the same direction as traffic flow, where they were invisible to drivers, and consuming public resources, to take money away from people driving on the freeway. The cat-and-mouse game seems rigged. That’s why.
What do YOU think?