Reading into it

The Sun also has a long story today about speeding tickets, and how the percentages of tickets given for certain speed ranges vary between counties. Of course, the story tries to draw conclusions out of thin air that cannot logically be proven by statistical data:

The discrepancies from county to county raise questions about unequal treatment of speeders in different parts of the state. For instance, the records suggest that a driver going 76 mph in a 55 mph zone on the Baltimore Beltway in Towson faces a strong possibility of severe penalties – including points that can drive up insurance rates. Meanwhile, a motorist going 76 mph in a 55 mph zone on the Capital Beltway in Bethesda has much better odds of getting a slap on the wrist.

Except, it really doesn’t, because none of this data can be put into context. We don’t know how many folks were doing 76 in a 55 in Montgomery County or Baltimore County. We don’t know if other speeding violations were going on at the time. We don’t know the traffic patterns that existed when these tickets were issued. It’s somewhat of a meaningless conclusion to even suggest that these percentages and records lead anybody into any meaningful revelation.

The remainder of the story goes on to list some of the issues that may come up regarding why there are drastic differences between counties: driving environment, priorities, etc. But it makes no sense why Michael Dresser would reach such a conclusion so early in a story when there was no statistical data existent that could realistically justify his claim.

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