EFFECTIVE USE OF PENALTIES AS A COUNTERMEASURE FOR SPEEDING: DRIVER ATTITUDES TOWARD PENALTIES AND PENALTY AVOIDANCE
Job, S.R.F. and Hatfield, J., University of Sydney, Australia
Speed is a critical factor in road trauma. Although the primary countermeasure against speeding is punishment, its efficacy is rarely assessed (partly because of several barriers to assessment). Evidence for uncomplicated effects of punishment is poor, however several conditions appear to favor the efficacy of penalties: 1. Penalties are known; 2. Penalties are sufficiently deterrent but do not seem inappropriate; 3. Perceived probability of detection is high; 4. Alternative behaviours are known and viable. The present survey of 196 licensed drivers assessed attitudes regarding penalties and penalty avoidance. Penalties for driving at 30kph above speed limits of both 60kph and 100kph were regarded as being "just right" by the majority of respondents. Young drivers were more likely to see the penalties as "too harsh". The perceived probability of being detected if speeding was moderate to low. Respondents identified several behaviours which reduce the chance of being detected speeding. "Keeping off main roads" was mentioned most frequently (94.5% respondents mentioned unprompted), followed by "slow suddenly if you see police or a camera" (84.6% mentioned unprompted). Respondents reported substantial knowledge of speed camera locations, and 19% reported deliberately learning these locations. Important improvements in the effectiveness of penalties may be achieved by countering peoples' belief that they can easily avoid detection (e.g. by promoting the use of hidden cameras, or frequent changes of the location of cameras, including to back-streets). Promoting the perceived appropriateness of these penalties might also be beneficial.