Some hard evidence was made available recently showing that increased fines do very little to improve road safety. The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics recently released a report titled The Deterrent Effect of Higher Fines on Recidivism: Driving Offences which reviewed some 70,000 motorists in NSW who received court-imposed fines for driving offences between 1998 and 2000.
And the result? The study found no evidence for a statistically significant relationship between fine amount and the likelihood of motorists finding themselves with a new driving offence.
In other words, it doesn’t seem to matter how much the infringement notice costs, some drivers simply do not care.
“The present analysis … failed to find any evidence for a significant relationship between fine amount and the likelihood that an offender will return to court for a new driving offence,” the report concluded.
Of course, NSW’s road minister Eric Roozendaal was quick to dismiss his own governments report that showed the current system was not having the desired effect. Mr Roozendaal said the report was not “at all convincing” as a reflection of the habits of most motorists.
Before we even got a chance to criticize the NSW government’s revenue raising scheme, Mr Roozendaal pointed out that higher fines were not about raising government revenue but about ensuring road safety. We plead with Mr Roozendaal to prove this, and do away with the monetary fines imposed on drivers, and instead double the demerit points for each ticket!
So for those of you thinking where is the evidence supporting our claim that the majority of speeding tickets are simply a revenue raising scheme? Well how about these figures: The Bureau of Crime Statistics report shows the average fine imposed by NSW local courts (for driving offences) has increased by double the inflation rate, rising from $358 in 1993 to $608 in 2005!
Apart from the figures, the report found that age, gender and cultural background were the best factors to determine an drivers’ chances of being caught again for speeding, drink-driving or driving while disqualified.
But we like to keep the best bits till last, the report found a very ironic fact, motorists who are disqualified for speeding offenses where far more likely to speed again. Even more amazingly, the longer the licence disqualification the more chance of speeding!
Unfortunately though, the message has not got through to the transport authorities! Finally there is a legitimate study conducted by a government body which shows, for the first time, that higher fines do nothing to deter offenders. Yet the solution? Even higher fines, and more Police, more, more and more fear.
“The best way to reduce the risk of recidivism amongst driving offenders is to increase the perceived likelihood of apprehension,” Bureau director Don Weatherburn
Mr Roozendaal rejected calls for higher fines to be reduced given their ineffectiveness. He also pointed out that 75% of NSW motorists are demerit point free, which shows the current system is working effectively.
“I think it’s important we look at the big picture and that is that it’s a combination of fines, demerit points, potential loss of licence and ultimately, even a jail sentence,” he told reporters.
NRMA president Alan Evans put in his 2cents as well, urging the NSW government to increase the number of police highway patrols to deter motorists from breaking road rules.
It is truly amazing that nearly all motoring authorities are eternally blind to the bigger picture, fear is not a positive deterrent.
When will this madness end? When will the state governments stop putting revenue before safety? And seek a new approach to road safety. When will some money be spent on upgrading Road conditions and infrastructure? Speed Camera’s do not save lives. Educated & Skilled drivers do!
It is essential for authorities to understand that it is far more effective to teach motorists the limits of their driving capabilities in a controlled environment in the hope of improving driver skill as well as changing driver attitude from
“Don’t speed here there might be a camera” to “Don’t speed here its a blind corner“.
Our friends in Texas recently banned all speed cameras as they were found ineffective.