…and Creative Graphing Downplays Sioux Falls Driver Exam Wait Times!
The Government Operations and Audit Committee will also hear from the Department of Public Safety Tuesday “to discus performance management indicators.” (That’s bureau-speak for, “How’re ya doin’?”) The DPS performance indicators have all sorts of fun stats.
For instance, since the December 2016 directive to write citations for every seatbelt violation observed, the Highway Patrol has recorded a big jump in “seatbelt contacts.” From 2014 through 2016, seatbelt contacts averaged about 7,900 a year. In 2017, the Highway Patrol issued close to 10,300 seatbelt tickets. In the first half of this year, HOP issued 7,870 tickets and four warnings. They’ve beaten last year’s monthlies each month so far and thus are on pace to issue over 15,000 such tickets.
In FY2016, the HP averaged about $22 per seatbelt citation. At that rate, 15,000 tickets could reap $330,000
Drug dogs are working hard for the Highway Patrol: so far this year, trooper dogs have participated in 540 drug arrests involving 30 pounds of meth, 967 pounds of marijuana, 3.6 pounds of BHO/WAX, a quarter pound of THC edibles, 91 grams of cocaine, 44 grams of psilocybin mush, 19 doses of pills, four seized guns, $52K in seized cash, and $78K in seized property. The dogs have not found any heroin or fentanyl yet this year.
The human troopers put over five million miles on their cars in each of the fiscal years from FY2014 through FY2017.
The Department of Public Safety also issued over 200,000 driver licenses and IDs in each of the last six years except for FY2014, when licenses and IDs dipped below 180,000.
DPS gives us an illustration of how to make bad numbers look better through creative graphing. Check out this graph of wait times at the Sioux Falls Driver Exam Station:
Average wait times in June were always under 30 minutes. Maximum wait times floated around 30 minutes, with only a couple spikes past one hour but never above 1:15. Yet by choosing to make the y-axis stretch all the way up to three hours, DPS depresses the wait-time curve with lots of impressive white space, making its wait time look far less significant than working folks trying to get their license renewed during lunch break perceive it to be.