Do Speeding Tickets Really Deter Speeders and Increase Traffic Safety?

Written by Gregory Monte.

“Drivers who receive speeding citations are at increased risk of receiving subsequent speeding citations, suggesting that speeding citations have limited effects on deterrence in the context of the current traffic enforcement system.”
2007 Study, National Center for Biotechnical Information

This post is a follow-up to yesterday’s commentary about Police Officer Taylor’s experience observing speeding cars.  I didn’t focus on this particular aspect of speeding law in that post, but I turn to it now. 

It turns out that Officer Taylor:

“… had issued approximately fifteen to twenty thousand speeding citations during his more than sixteen-year tenure with the police force.”

Maybe I am being cynical, but this Philadelphia police officer clearly has been working overtime “protecting” citizens from speeding drivers.  I just wonder how many real crimes could have been prevented or possibly solved if he directed his effort in a different direction.

It turns out that 45% of homicides in the City of Brotherly Love went unsolved between 2007-2016.

Don’t you feel safer sleeping at night because Officer Taylor was vigilant on his beat generating all that “revenue” for the city of Philadelphia?

Other Resources

Enough cynicism for now.  Here are some other studies related to this issue which I found interesting:

Speeding Tickets

The deterrent effect of increasing fixed penalties for traffic offences: The Norwegian experience

For speeding in general, no effect of increasing fixed penalties can be found. For speeding close to speed camera sites, there is a weak tendency for the violation rate to go down. This tendency is not statistically significant at conventional levels.”

Traffic Safety

The results are mixed:

Do Traffic Tickets Increase Road Safety?  Evidence From Two New Sources

However, the annual data comprised of Florida counties spanning the years 1999-2010 provides no evidence to suggest traffic tickets increase road safety.

Do traffic tickets reduce motor vehicle crashes? Evidence from “Click It or Ticket”

“The Click It or Ticket (CIOT) campaign in Massachusetts decreased motor-vehicle crashes by roughly 11%; a 1% increase in tickets issued leads to a 0.28% decline in motor vehicle crashes. The ticketing campaign also reduced the number of nonfatal injuries from motor vehicle crashes.”

Automated Speed Enforcement

The final study which I will cite addresses one of my main problems with speed enforcement – its arbitrary nature.  Thousands of drivers speed, but only a handful get pulled over and get a ticket.  At least the use of automated speed cameras eliminates this arbitrariness.

Data Show NYC Speed Cameras Deter Speeding and Reduce Injuries

Automated speed cameras reduced speeding by 63 percent and pedestrian injuries by 23 percent at locations where NYC has used them, according to a report released by the city last week.”


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