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Tougher penalties for traffic violations saves lives

Harold Mandel's picture
A car demolished from a collision

Accidents on the road are an everday occurence. There are scores of people tragically crippled and killed in these accidents worldwide daily. It just takes a fraction of a second for a once healthy person to end up crippled in a wheel chair or dead in the morgue from the impact of a serious traffic accident. It has been observed that tougher penalties for traffic violations are associated with fewer casualties on the road.

Males generally engage in riskier driving

Researchers conducted an evaluation of the deterrent impact of Ontario's street racing and stunt driving legislation, which first came into effect on September 30, 2007, on collision casualties which were defined as injuries and fatalities reported Accident Analysis & Prevention. The researchers hypothesized this law would have more impact in lowering speeding associated collision casualties in males than females because males, particularly young ones, are much more likely to engage in risky driving such as:

1: Speeding

2: Street racing

3: Stunt driving

There is a general deterrent effect from stricter driving laws

The researchers findings indicate a decrease in speeding associated casualties among young males of 58 fewer casualties per month after the introduction of Ontario's street racing and stunt driving legislation. This suggests there is a general deterrent effect from this new legislation.

In another study researchers conducted an evaluation of the deterrent impact of Ontario's new street racing and stunt driving legislation on extreme speeding convictions reported Traffic Injury Prevention. Again it was hypothesized the new law would have more impact on lowering extreme speeding in males than females because males overall engage in riskier driving.

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Swift and severe sanctions seem to work

It was observed that there was a significant intervention effect in the male driver group as anticipated. There was not a corresponding effect observed in the female driver group. These findings support the deterrence theory that certain, swift and severe sanctions can decrease risky driving behavior. The hypothesis that legal sanctions can have an impact on the extreme speeding convictions holds up.

Tougher penalties can be credited for fewer casualties among young male drivers reports the University of Western Ontario. A significant decrease in speeding associated fatalities and injuries has been observed among young men in Ontario since the province’s tough extreme speeding and aggressive driving laws were first introduced in 2007. There was a sustained decrease of about 58 speeding associated injuries and fatalities a month among males between 16-24. This equates to approximately 700 less young men having been injured or killed in speeding associated crashes a year since the law was passed.

Evelyn Vingilis, PhD, a professor in Family Medicine, and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, led the study. Vingilis found Ontario’s Street Racers, Stunt, and Aggressive Drivers Legislation (Bill 203) is having an impact both in the number of convictions and in lowering the number of collisions. Drivers who are caught going 50 kph over the speed limit or engaging in improper actions which constitute a driving stunt, contest, or race can immediately have their drivers licenses suspended and their vehicles impounded for seven days under this new law. If convicted the driver faces:

1: A fine of $2,000-$10,000

2: License suspension for up to two years or six demerit points

3: The possibility of up to six months in jail

The penalties get even stiffer with a second conviction.

Swift and severe sanctions deter risky driving behavior

Vingilis has said the deterence theory is clearly supported by these findings insofar as swift and severe sanctions being able to deter risky driving behavior.

The swiftness with which traffic accidents cripple and kill people is shocking. The issue of a need for deterence of poor driving is not a political issue to be debated between liberals and conservatives. The pain of lost functioning of the body and mind and lost lives from serious traffic accidents hits everyone just as hard. A lesson should therefore be learned from this research and stiffer violations for risky driving should be enacted into law and enforced worldwide as soon as possible. Even one moment of carelessness can make a difference between life and death when driving.