20% of LAPD traffic tickets get the street name wrong

lapd-car.jpgFun story in the LA Times: an analysis of 75,000 computerized traffic citations found the street name "mangled beyond all but the most hopeful inference about 20% of the time."

Los Angeles Police Department cops have come up with 49 ways to spell Cahuenga: Cahaunga, Caheinga, Cahenga, Caheunga, Cahienga, Cahlenga, Cahoengia, Cahu, Cahubnga and Cahue.

Of course it's possible that Cahu and Cahue may actually be failed attempts to spell some other street. But how would we know?

In addition, the record contains 34 variants of Figueroa, 28 of Sepulveda and 15 of Lankershim. Our favorite is Lanrumshim, but it's really hard to say with authority whether that's better than Lanicershim, Lankershire or the tongue-twister Lankserhim.

The street with the most spelling variations is one of the shortest streets in the city: Chick Hearn Court outside Staples Center, with 56 spellings, from Chick Heave to Chick Horn.

56 ways to misspell Chick Hearn Court? Yowza. The misspellings came to light because the Times and data analyst Doug Smith, with help from two interns from UCLA, tried to determine whether traffic citations and crossing lights help to reduce pedestrian deaths. But the data was so dirty that conclusions became difficult — and the work of analysis frustrating: "Sadly, whatever the explanation, we've ruled the citation information inadmissible in our analysis of pedestrian deaths. The only thing we can say with 90% certainty about data like this is 'Argh!'"

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