Thursday, March 03, 2011

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Morristown officials are freaking out because they might have to raise taxes to cover lost revenue if the red light cameras are removed. Morristown Police Chief Roger Overholt argues that "the cameras have dramatically reduced fatalities and serious crashes." Of course, he offers no hard data to back it up. According to a source for the story, "fatalities were down 600 percent last year." How, exactly, is that possible? Well, it isn't. A number can never drop by more than 100%. If you have 10 fatalities and fatalities go to zero, that means fatalities have dropped 100%. You cannot have negative fatalities.

Folks, I'm not sure if they are math impaired, making it up, or both. Ironically, in the same paragraph, the police chief poo-poos the idea of earmarking 95% of the traffic camera revenues to education. The city officials cannot do basic math, but yet they don't want their scamera revenue to be used for education. I'm choking on the irony of this.

In Morristown, $1.4 million has been taken out of the local economy and sent to Redflex. How many jobs would be generated if that money were spent locally? The other $1.4 million went into city coffers to make up for their mismanagement of the rest of their budget.

UPDATE: It looks like the Citizen Tribune article has been moved or is no longer available. The Kingsport newspaper has a similar version of the story which also cites the "600 percent" decrease in fatalities. Welcome to all the readers from Say Uncle (and thanks for the link).

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