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18 CHAPTER 6 Estimation of Cost to Implement Countermeasures Final decisions as to whether a state may choose to imple- would be expected from most of the proven legal and regula- ment a given countermeasure--or not--often will depend on tory countermeasures, although such ratios are rarely the de- the cost of implementation versus the expected benefit from ciding factor on whether to pass such legislation. implementation. Expected benefits are covered in the previ- Political capital also refers to the tolerance and acceptance of ous chapter. This chapter will address the issue of cost of the general public for highway safety initiatives. The general implementation. population has come to expect holiday crackdowns on drunk Cost may be thought of as falling into four general areas: driving, speed, and aggressive driving. Would they welcome political capital, resource allocation, user pay, and direct cost. automated speed enforcement? How about automated speed Benefit/cost ratios typically are based on the direct cost to the enforcement around school zones? state highway safety office (SHO) of implementing a given Political capital is a real, yet largely nonquantifiable, cost. countermeasure. However, direct cost is not the only cost. Most of the law and policy countermeasures listed as Proven Very often direct cost is not even the most significant cost or and considered effective in the previous section cost little in consideration when selecting a given countermeasure for terms of dollars and their benefit/cost ratios are enormous. implementation. Yet, they may require a large amount of political capital and, as such, may be out of reach at this time in some states. Political Capital Resource Allocation Each state will make an assessment of what is doable--and not doable--each year in their highway safety plan. This de- States that have prioritized speeding as the number one termination becomes a judgment call that can only be made enforcement issue will not be spending much time on red- at the state level. Is a mandatory motorcycle helmet law pos- light running. There are only so many officers and overtime sible given the current legislature? How about a primary seat hours that an enforcement agency can fill. Similarly, if the belt law or an upgrade to the graduated licensing law? What SHO is inundating media outlets with child safety messages, can realistically be accomplished and what initiatives should be these same outlets will not also be receptive to a drunk driv- given priority? In general, most SHOs work toward a priori- ing campaign at the same time. Or, if SHO staff have been tized and limited set of objectives for each legislative session, tasked with community outreach, it is not likely that they will rather than pursuing an omnibus list of possible new legisla- also be available for the development of other programs. Sim- tive initiatives. ilarly, if sister state agencies and nonprofit organizations are Direct costs associated with passing and implementing leg- being asked to focus on one campaign, they may not be able islation, although generally modest, are nonetheless real, and to assist in other areas as well. need to be considered as a bill moves forward and passage Many of the resources available to a state office are neither appears likely. For instance, Oregon estimated that adminis- renewable nor expandable. They are fixed and, once deployed, trative costs associated with implementing their new GDL law will not be available for some other effort in any specified were $150,000. They also estimated that the crash reduction time period. The "cost" of deploying these resources in pursuit benefit to the state of Oregon was nearly $11 million, resulting of one goal is the potential for missing the opportunity to in a benefit/cost ratio of 73/1. That is, there was a $73 savings pursue some other goal. Although these costs are real, like for every dollar invested. Benefit/cost ratios of this magnitude political costs, they are difficult to quantify. Such costs are