The “Cowboy” PA State Troopers – Revisited …

Written by Gregory Monte.

Yesterday I posted a very basic analysis of the number of speeding tickets handed out by Pennsylvania State Troopers over the Labor Day holiday weekend.  This was a follow-up to a similar analysis I did of speed enforcement over the Fourth of July weekend.  In that earlier post, I determined that three Troops (A/F/G) issued over 4x as many speeding tickets as Troops D/P/R.  The upshot was that I labeled those former Troopers “Cowboys” for their apparent over-strict enforcement of the PA speeding statutes.

I acknowledged in the original article that other factors may explain this situation, but I didn’t have to time to look into them at that point.  Today I want to consider a couple of those possible factors.

Why Focus on Holiday Weekend Speeding Tickets?

Let me state outright that I am not claiming to have completed major scientific statistical analysis of all of the possible data that might influence the issuance of speeding tickets in Pennsylvania – that is simply not the purpose of this blog.  Instead, I provide information about traffic tickets that I think will be interesting and helpful to my readers.  Most of my posts focus on strategies and technicalities that I have discovered which enable citizens to beat their tickets.  But sometimes I just write about topics that I find interesting and then pass them along to see what others think about them.  This three-part series of posts about Holiday Weekend speeding tickets is an example of the latter.

Other Potential Factor #1 – Number of Interstate Roads

The first factor that I want to consider is the possibility that Troopers who patrol counties with more interstate highways will, naturally, issue more speeding tickets.  After all, these roads have a higher traffic volume and the State Police can more efficiently patrol them with fewer units.

Well, my initial research suggests that this factor might not account for higher ticket issuance.  Out of the 18 counties patrolled by the “Cowboy” Troopers (A/F/G), only 9 have major interstates running through them:

Cambria (none), Indiana (none), Somerset (Rt. 76), Westmorland (Rt. 76), Cameron (none), Clinton (Rt. 80), Lycoming (Rt. 180), Northumberland (Rt. 80), Potter (none), Snyder (none), Tioga (none), Bedford (Rt. 76 & 99), Blair (Rt. 99), Centre (Rt. 80 & 99), Fulton (Rt. 70), Huntington (none), Miflin (none), Juniata (none).

Compare this to the 13 counties policed by Troopers in D/P/R – 8 out of 13 have major interstates within their borders:

Armstrong (none), Beaver (Rt. 376 & 76), Butler (Rt. 79), Lawrence (Rt. 76 & 376), Mercer (Rt. 80 & 79), Bradford (none), Luzerne (Rt. 80, 81 & 476), Sullivan (none), Wyoming (none).

Other Potential Factor #2 – Number of Square Miles

Perhaps the “Cowboys” patrol more square miles than other Troopers.  Could this account for the higher issuance of speeding tickets? 

According to my research, this does not appear to be the case either.  The average size of a “Cowboy” county is 754 square miles compared to 641 for the other Troopers.  This 15% difference in size doesn’t seem likely to account for the fact that speeding tickets are issued in 3.7 to 4+ times greater numbers.

Why do I say this?

Because more compact counties (like D/P/R) would seem to be easier to patrol and so would likely result in more tickets – all things being equal. But instead we find that the Troopers assigned to the larger A/F/G counties are the ones who issue more tickets. Unless Troops A/F/G have more personnel (which is a possibility), they should issue fewer tickets, not more.

Nothing Yet … But I will Keep Looking

As I indicated earlier, while I haven’t done an in-depth study on this issue, the factors that I have looked at don’t account for the speeding ticket differential.  If any reader has a suggestion about what else I should focus on, I would gladly accept the challenge.  But in the meantime, as I asked back in July …

“Would I be off-base to suggest that the Pennsylvania State Police in Troops A, F & G are somewhat more “liberal” when they decide to issue speeding tickets as opposed to their D, P & R counterparts?”

Again, time and future analysis will tell.


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