Jeremy's report cast further doubt on the stated reasons for the tactics, debunking the notion (see the chart at right) that high numbers of vehicle crashes justified them:
In a release announcing the operation, DPS officials said the unusual measure was necessary in the Rio Grande Valley, in particular, because of “unsafe driving behaviors” and the “number of vehicle crashes” in the region. The agency set up numerous roadblocks in late September and early October as part of a wider law enforcement surge in the Rio Grande Valley.DPS has also tried to claim the roadblocks were necessary because of high rates of uninsured drivers in the area, but "according to the Texas Department of Insurance, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston all have significantly higher numbers of uninsured drivers than Hidalgo and Cameron counties," the Statesman reported.
But an American-Statesman analysis of Texas Department of Transportation data shows that the counties singled out by DPS — including Hidalgo and Cameron — have low crash rates compared with several other population centers in the state. Based on crashes per vehicle mile traveled, a statistic commonly used to calculate safety rates, the Rio Grande Valley trails far behind cities like Lubbock, Laredo, Houston and Midland, and has crash rates comparable to Central Texas and the Dallas area.
Caught in this web of dubious excuses, "On Saturday, the San Antonio Express-News reported that DPS has stopped using the checkpoints and discontinued a broader enforcement push in the Valley." That's good news. It was a foolhardy and politically tone deaf move to ever launch them in the first place.