Date of Award

5-1-2019

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Hibdon, Julie

Abstract

Each year, thousands of people are killed as a result of an automobile collision. In 2016 alone, collisions killed approximately 37,461 people; this is nearly double the number of murders reported by the UCR for the same year. Additionally, motor vehicle related harms result in billions of dollars of expenses each year. In order to maintain roadway safety, many police departments increase traffic enforcement to deter drivers from engaging in negative driving behaviors. Using a deterrent framework, I study the effects of one traffic unit’s outcome on traffic collisions and motor vehicle safety crimes in the City of Paducah, Kentucky. Equipped with four years of longitudinal data, collisions and motor vehicle safety crimes are compared during intervention and non-intervention periods. Independent Sample T-Tests are used to determine the association between increased traffic enforcement and the outcome variables. Next, a One way ANOVA, and subsequent Post Hoc tests are used to determine the differences between 3 separate time periods. The results suggest that as traffic enforcement increased during the intervention period, collisions and DUI offenses decreased when compared to the pre-intervention phase; while the number of collisions increased after the intervention, DUI offenses continued to decrease. Offenses for speeding 15 mph above the speed limit and disregarding a traffic control device increased during the intervention period, when compared to pre-intervention levels and decreased after the intervention period, suggesting a positive relationship with traffic enforcement. These results are discussed in relation to deterrence theory. Finally, limitations and avenues for future research are addressed.

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