Do expensive fines really stop speeding?

DC Metropolitan Police speeding ticket - 2014-09-14

We can’t realistically address this without talking about the fact that most municipalities ignore laws that forbid them from using traffic fines as a revenue stream. It has nothing to do with effectiveness:

Recently, the D.C. Department of Transportation proposed new fines for 20 traffic offenses, among them a fine of $1,000, up from $300, for speeding 25mph over the limit.

The proposed fines have generated a great amount of outrage among Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. residents who see the fines as an unfair way for the city to tax residents and commuters in order to raise revenue. Some residents also voiced their concerns about the difficulties the new fines would impose on lower income residents, for many of whom this could mean either paying the fine or paying for food and rent. The fines double after 30 days and could lead to the loss of a driver’s license.

According to the Department of Transportation, there is no evidence to show that fines reduce either speeding or accidents and deaths caused by speeding. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, whose authority has come into question over the issue, is proposing the higher fines as a part of her Vision Zero plan, which aims to bring the number of traffic fatalities and injuries down to zero by 2024.

Besides the $1,000 fine for driving 25mph over the limit, proposed new fines include $200 for rolling through a right turn on red, $100 for speeding near a senior or recreation center, and $500 for failure to yield to a bus re-entering traffic, among others.

Supporters of the proposed fines, including pedestrians, cyclists and city transportation officials, stand by the proposal as well as the controversial $1,000 fine, saying that driving 25mph over the limit is “unacceptable” and life-threatening, especially on neighborhood streets.

According to Maryland Criminal Attorney Koria Stanton, “It is important that drivers keep themselves informed about local laws, regulations, and fines. Being aware in such a way could help protect someone from an unpleasant situation with even more unpleasant consequences.”

Because of the amount of public outcry, city transportation officials have said that the proposal is likely to change, but is also likely to keep higher penalties included in order to discourage dangerous driving and speeding. The city will continue to works towards taking a more aggressive stance on speeding offenses.

3 thoughts on “Do expensive fines really stop speeding?

  1. Yes, but. Consider the Swedish system where the fine is a proportion of total income. So some guy in his Ferrari wound up paying something like $27,000 for speeding. (I don’t remember any of the actual details, but that’s the gist.) That does seem to have an effect on guys in Ferraris.

    The difference, of course, is that the Swedes have a massively anti-corruption culture and laws, so those fines aren’t doubling as taxes.

  2. Concerning Sweden and fines, “From each according to their ability…..”
    Socialist thinking is common sense.

    The only way to stop speeding is to make cars that can’t exceed the speed limit.

Comments are closed.