Rather, you live in Massachusetts and see a police officer directing traffic.
No big deal, right In theory, police officers would be the most qualified for directing and influencing drivers. However, by analyzing accident statistics as well the cost of having police officers direct traffic, one may find that the cost is simply too high. In short, the possible benefit of police details simply does not outweigh the actual cost to businesses and consumers.
For the people of Massachusetts, it seems like detail work has always been done by police officers. Whether a road is being paved, a pothole being filled, or any type of construction that may affect the roadways, police officers have been the most likely candidate to direct traffic. Many people believe that using police officers is safer than using flagmen. However, there are many different things to consider when making this argument.
In 2004, extensive studies were performed in order to measure how much safer roadways are with police officers rather than flagmen. By comparing the accident rate between Massachusetts and other states that do not use police for details, one finds that it is no safer to drive in Massachusetts than any other state (BHI Policy Study.) Despite the use of police details, the accident rates in Massachusetts are some of the highest in the nation. Property damage and bodily harm due to accidents is the highest in Massachusetts than any other state. Interestingly, from the years 1994 to 2003, Massachusetts ranked third of all states in terms of lowest fatality rate in highway work zones (BHI Policy Study.) These statistics show that although police detail work is beneficial in the safety of high-speed road construction, the safety in lower speed road construction does not prove to be any better. With this data, it is not surprising that state officials and politicians are now looking into regulating when and where police details should be used, and when and where flagmen would be suitable.
As many people know, the state of Massachusetts is suffering from financial strain. Since 2001, the state has been going through a deep recession, losing about 11 percent of employment and over 200,000 jobs (Gavin.) It is projected that Massachusetts will continue to lose jobs until around 2010, and this year alone, there is a projected job loss of 4 percent (Gavin.) Due to the state's financial strain, state officials are eager to find ways to cut back expenses and improve job growth. One of the most obvious ways to cut back on expenses is limiting the use of police details.
State leaders are already targeting the use of police details in order to restore economic growth. For decades, police have been used for construction projects without question. The practice that was once seen as necessary and just a fact of life is now being questioned by some of the highest-ranking state officials. On March 27th of this year, Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi met together at the Beacon Hill press conference, announcing the agreement to create new regulations that would encourage officials to use civilian flaggers during low-risk construction projects (Viser.) This plan would focus on low traffic areas such as dead-end