Greater Greater Washington

Pedestrians


Ped/bike safety enforcement stories, part 2: Nancy Szemraj

At Friday's hearing on pedestrian and bicycle safety enforcement. Nancy Szemraj explained how her daughter was hit last June, while crossing Connecticut Avenue at Macomb Street, by a driver running a red light, and suffered long-term physical and emotional scars.

The only penalty for running a red light and hitting a person is a small fine, and the DMV told Szemraj that they don't even pursue out-of-state drivers if they don't pay such tickets.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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Are the automated fines going to be higher than the current ones?

by Lance on Feb 8, 2011 11:25 am • linkreport

Lance: They shouldn't be. If anything, they can be lower. The point of automated enforcement is not punishment or revenue but to create an incentive to obey the law by creating a high likelihood that breaking the law would involve some consequence.

This isn't relevant to this specific case, however. The issue here is that running a red light and striking a pedestrian brings no higher fines than running a red light and missing a pedestrian. That seems wrong. In many jurisdictions, negligent driving behavior which results in injury carries a greater penalty.

by David Alpert on Feb 8, 2011 11:35 am • linkreport

According to the theory of optimal deterrence,

fine = (expected damage + cost of enforcement)/probability of getting caught

Since the probability of getting caught is greater, the fine should be proportionatel less. In addition, the cost of enforcement per ticket is also less.

by JimT on Feb 8, 2011 11:57 am • linkreport

@JimT-

You're 100% right that the optimal fine under automated enforcement is much lower than the optimal fine under traditional enforcement. But keep in mind that the actual fine now (for traditional enforcement) is far lower than the optimal fine (because the probability of getting caught now is essentially zero, the optimal fine is incredibly high). So the optimal fine under automated enforcement might still be higher than what we have now.

by Rob on Feb 8, 2011 12:39 pm • linkreport

The theory of optimal deterrence has been found to be inaccurate. This is what I was talking about in my testimony.

If the chance of being caught is cut in half, but the fine doubled, then people aren't equally likely to commit the crime. They're more likely, because they're not making an economic expected value calculation.

At the extreme end, no matter how much you increase the penalty, it ceases to affect behavior; putting someone in jail for 30 years vs. 15 doesn't make them half as likely to commit a crime, or even much less likely at all.

That's why the best approach, many researchers now believe, is to increase the chance of getting caught rather than increase penalties.

by David Alpert on Feb 8, 2011 12:42 pm • linkreport

Thanks for the explanation David. Now, wouldn't reckless driving come into play in this case? Or something like reckless endangerment?

I know there's always tort law ... but from a criminal law standpoint, I'm really surprised there isn't some law invocable other than the traffic fine.

by Lance on Feb 8, 2011 1:02 pm • linkreport

Lance: I totally agree. It seems there should be a law. I don't know all the ins and outs of the law but Ms. Szemraj said there wasn't. She also told me that when her daughter was in the hospital, police kept coming by periodically to see if she died, because if she did they could file charges. Very sad.

by David Alpert on Feb 8, 2011 1:08 pm • linkreport

There is tort law, and there is likely a large settlement.

Exactly what crime was committed here? No evidence of speeding, alcohol, impairment, etc

Sometime an accident is just an accident.

by charlie on Feb 8, 2011 1:13 pm • linkreport

Can anyone imagine DC proposing that the automated revenue generating machines - I mean, automated traffic enforcement machines - will have lower fines based on any sort of economic, psychological, or paranormal equations of deterrence?

Absolutely not.

The revenue projections are way too good to pass up. And that's what this is all about, notwithstanding MPD's concerns about safety. If they spent more time ensuring their officers were properly trained as to what the actual laws are, we'd all be better off from more effective enforcement. But that sort of thing takes actual time and costs money, as opposed to the installation of a camera.

by Fritz on Feb 8, 2011 1:31 pm • linkreport

@charlie ... From the facts, as we're hearing them, this wasn't an accident because gross negligence occured .. i.e., for the daughter to be 7 seconds into the crossing and already near the center line (as recounted by Ms. Szemraj), the driver clearly drove through a redlight without even looking to see if someone else with the right of way (vehicle or pedestrian) was already in that space.

by Lance on Feb 8, 2011 1:34 pm • linkreport

@charlie

#1, did you miss the part where the driver ran a red light?

#2, you can be charged with a crime if you kill someone with your car, so how come you can't be charged with a crime if you seriously injure someone with your car?

by MLD on Feb 8, 2011 1:43 pm • linkreport

well thank goodness there were witnesses that were believed and interviewed and whose account was in the official record (as opposed to the case with Alice Swanson) because the impact must have pushed the girl out of the crosswalk. In that case the police would say "she wasn't in the crosswalk".

by Tina on Feb 8, 2011 1:57 pm • linkreport

The revenue projections are way too good to pass up. And that's what this is all about, notwithstanding MPD's concerns about safety.

The anti-enforcement folks have got a pretty compelling argument here, saying that while a) yes, automated enforcement will rein in the worst of driver misbehavior, but b) the city's motives are not pure enough, and will make a ton of money in the process.

Hmm.... Yeah... not caring all that much about the "purity of heart" thing.

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 2:16 pm • linkreport

Ms. Szemraj displays ample dignified courage and composure too, like Ms. Rowan. Strong moms.

by Tina on Feb 8, 2011 2:21 pm • linkreport

@David Alpert: Your criticism of the theory of optimal deterrence is probably inapposite in this case. To the extent that people are irrational by (for example) discounting low-probabily events, the theory of optimal deterrence under-predicts the fine necessary to get the optimal outcome when the probability of getting caught is very low. So it could be used to estimate the appropriate fine for automated enforcement, though it underestimates the efficient fine for police enforcement. But it still is valid for the point we are making here, since it understates the predicted effect we are asserting.

Put another way, if a $100 fine from a cop is no deterrent, do we really think a near-certain 50 cent ticket from DDOT would be a greater deterrent? So far, it looks like the higher expected fine, not the nonlinear assessment of low probabilities, is the source of deterrent.

@Rob. I agree that existing fines are probably too low. Of course, no one is talking about cutting those fines in proportion to the change in probabilities, which I suspect would be about 100:1 or more. Still, given the far higher probability of getting caught, it would be unreasonable to not have lower fines for automatic enforcement. I think that the ratio is probably about 10:1 when you include the insurance effect.

by JimT on Feb 8, 2011 2:33 pm • linkreport

@Fritz: Would you agree with the proposition that in aggregate, fines for running red lights should cover the cost of enforcement (however it is done) plus the cost of harm caused by running red lights?

by JimT on Feb 8, 2011 2:37 pm • linkreport

@DA
Here we go again.

"The issue here is that running a red light and striking a pedestrian brings no higher fines than running a red light and missing a pedestrian. "

This has nothing to do with running red lights and everything to do with hitting pedestrians. Why aren't the penalties for hitting pedestrians more severe? Why are we wasting time talking about anything else? You could create your police state with traffic cameras on every corner and still not come anywhere near addressing the problem you say you want to address.

Sometimes I wonder if you are for real or whether this site is just a smokescreen for something else entirely.

by movement on Feb 8, 2011 3:17 pm • linkreport

movement: I think we're saying the exact same thing. There is no fine for hitting a pedestrian; therefore, it's just the red light running fine. I just phrased it from a different angle.

by David Alpert on Feb 8, 2011 3:24 pm • linkreport

Exactly what crime was committed here?

If I hit someone with a bat, it's assault or attempted murder - of some degree or another.
If I hit someone with a car, it's a fine?

I need to buy a bigger car.

by greent on Feb 8, 2011 3:46 pm • linkreport

I too am a bit mystified by David's rationale against increased penalties, and by the fact that so far I have not seen one response proposed by this blog around which we can organize. I apologize if something definite has been proposed.

It seems that indeed the police HAVE been able to stop the drivers, or the drivers have stopped themselves in a great many of these cases, therefore the notion that unless enforcement is increased, higher penalties won't make a bit of difference seems to be meaningless. That is how I have read David Alpert's responses to me and to others who have proposed massively increased penalties.

We do know who the drivers are in a great many of these highly publicized case. And they get away with the teeny tiny light fine that the police, by law, levy on them.

INCREASE THAT FINE and PENALTY.

by Jazzy on Feb 8, 2011 3:52 pm • linkreport

It seems there should be a law. I don't know all the ins and outs of the law but Ms. Szemraj said there wasn't.

What about this:
§ 50-2201.04. Speeding and reckless driving.
(b) Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others, or without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property, shall be guilty of reckless driving.

(c) Any individual violating any provision of this section where the offense constitutes reckless driving shall upon conviction for the 1st offense be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than 3 months, or both; upon conviction for the 2nd offense committed within a 2-year period shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both; and upon conviction for the 3rd or any subsequent offense committed within a 2-year period of the 1st offense shall be fined not more than $3,000 or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

by anon on Feb 8, 2011 3:54 pm • linkreport

@greent - the fine the driver got was for running the light. there was no extra penalty for hitting the girl. If the driver had gone through the light w/o hitting anyone and been ticketed the fine would be the same.

by Tina on Feb 8, 2011 3:59 pm • linkreport

Then why the endless discussion on automated traffic enforcement programs? It seems like every day there is a GGW posting applauding the expansion of these programs as if the were the answer to improved traffic safety. It is hogwash!

by movement on Feb 8, 2011 4:01 pm • linkreport

@move..b/c, according to the evidence, assurance of getting caught is the greatest motivator for changing unwanted behavior. Reduced numbers of redlight runners=fewer people getting hit by redlight runners. Creating an extra penalty for hitting someone while running a red is seperate. Redlight runs can be reduced without that penalty but I think everyone agrees that there should be an extra penalty for hitting someone while you're running a red.

by Tina on Feb 8, 2011 4:07 pm • linkreport

@Jazzy

The argument isn't that we aren't catching people who commit crimes. It's that our current system increasingly permits dangerous driving behavior to become routine driving behavior. The argument is that a high fine that is infrequently enforced (chances of being caught are low) is not going to influence behavior. A relatively smaller fine that you get nailed with 60% of the time you engage in risky behavior is more likely to have an effect.

The reason that people who kill/maim people with their cars get off scot-free when they aren't drunk/coked-up/going 140mph is because we write off dangerous behavior as normal behavior (even if it's against the law) because it is never enforced.

I dunno if we're really at-odds though; if you kill or injure someone with your car you should get nailed to the wall for it.

by MLD on Feb 8, 2011 4:18 pm • linkreport

@Tina, yea, I got that, my sarcasm was evident, I thought.

by greent on Feb 8, 2011 4:23 pm • linkreport

@Jazzy

The argument isn't that we aren't catching people who commit crimes. It's that our current system increasingly permits dangerous driving behavior to become routine driving behavior. The argument is that a high fine that is infrequently enforced (chances of being caught are low) is not going to influence behavior. A relatively smaller fine that you get nailed with 60% of the time you engage in risky behavior is more likely to have an effect.

The reason that people who kill/maim people with their cars get off scot-free when they aren't drunk/coked-up/going 140mph is because we write off dangerous behavior as normal behavior (even if it's against the law) because it is never enforced.

I dunno if we're really at-odds though; if you kill or injure someone with your car you should get nailed to the wall for it.

by MLD on Feb 8, 2011 4:18 pm

On the one hand, you say:

The argument isn't that we aren't catching people who commit crimes

and in the next breath, you say


The argument is that a high fine that is infrequently enforced (chances of being caught are low) is not going to influence behavior.


Which is it? We aren't catching people, or we are?

Perhaps you can understand my confusion.

by Jazzy on Feb 8, 2011 4:25 pm • linkreport

@greent..o.nope.

by Tina on Feb 8, 2011 4:25 pm • linkreport

@Tina, gosh, I'll work on that ;0

by greent on Feb 8, 2011 4:30 pm • linkreport

@jazzy, the fact that speed cameras and red-light cameras initially catch hundreds of people indicates that hundreds of people weren't getting caught before the camera. And as people learn where the cameras are the number of tickets issued by the cameras goes down, indicating pretty clearly that assurance of being caught changes the speeding/red light running behavior of the "usuals" on those routes. Of course some small fraction of people get caught the old fashoined way (by a cop) so we can't say "no one EVER gets caught", its just a small fraction of the number that will get caught with the cameras.

by Tina on Feb 8, 2011 4:33 pm • linkreport

@oboe: You need to talk with the police union guy to make sure he's on the same page. At the hearing this week, he was all in favor of cameras everywhere because of all the revenue they would bring in. I think safety was somewhere further down his list.

@JimT: How do we value the cost of running a red light? For instance, running a red light in the middle of the day with tons of pedestrians would be highly reckless. But what if a person runs a red light on a deserted intersection in the middle of the night? Is that less reckless by a factor of 2, 5, 10, 100? And do the fines even cover the cost of enforcement? Or are they relatively arbitrary numbers chosen for their deterrence value?

by Fritz on Feb 8, 2011 5:05 pm • linkreport

@Fritz:

My point is that, frankly, I don't care if they're doing it for the revenue. Most legitimate studies show that neighborhood enforcement has a positive impact on safety.

This is a bit like complaining that the free market system is illegitimate because all of its positive benefits are driven by greed and self-interest. I don't care if that new drug *will* save my life! The companies that developed it were only in it for the money!"

Anyway, more money means more money for community policing, crime labs, murder detectives, etc.... Seems a heck of a lot more sensible than the folks who claim to have no problem with enforcement, so long as it's real live officers having their time wasted dealing with overgrown children who can't be bothered to obey the speed limit or yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

by oboe on Feb 8, 2011 5:16 pm • linkreport

Growing up in Annandale in the 1970s, one of my childhood friends was hit by a car than ran a stop sign. She was severly injured but survived. The driver lost his license. Permanently. I remember all the parents in the neighborhood constantly reminding their children about the driver who permanently lost his license. Believe me, that story has stuck with me 40 years later. That, my friend, is evidence of a punishment impacting behavior of a generation. Why can Virginia impose a permanent loss of drivers' license but not DC? Why does DC continue to be so incredibly soft on crime?

by Corcoran on Feb 8, 2011 5:22 pm • linkreport

At least in this case, the driver's license is in Maryland, so whether he loses the license or not isn't up to DC.

by David Alpert on Feb 8, 2011 5:44 pm • linkreport

@Fritz,
I'd say the total number of fatal accidents caused by red light running times the statistical value of a life plus a similar calculation for injuries would give us the cost of red light running. The enforcement costs per ticket can probably be estimated.
I think you are correct that total fines are probably well under the enforcement cost for police-issued tickets, while automatic ticket fines are more than the enforcement cost. Thus your reasoning--with which I agree--implies that the fines are too low.
If you accept the premise that fines should cover the cost, the next question is: what is the most effective way to do so?

by Jim Titus on Feb 8, 2011 5:53 pm • linkreport

@ Fritz: The revenue projections are way too good to pass up. And that's what this is all about, notwithstanding MPD's concerns about safety.

So what? The DC budget hole is M$600. Why not use cameras as a source for revenue? Surely, you'd rather see the city get revenue from law-breakers than to see your taxes rise, or services cut?

Furthermore, it is a huge waste of resources to have cops write tickets. These are highly trained, and paid folks. Why let them waste their time on things that can be automated, and use the cops to actually solve some crimes?

I think there is definitively an argument to be made that we do not want to live in a place where there's a camera on every single street corner. That's a moral argument.

However, I do not see any good argument why we should not automate the writing of tickets for speeding and red lights and box blocking. It's better revenue than taxing more, or cutting education. And it leaves more time for cops to actually go and chase criminals.

by Jasper on Feb 8, 2011 5:56 pm • linkreport

@oboe. Extending the point, it's okay for government to require law-abiding citizens to (mostly) cover the costs of driving through fuel tax, tolls, etc. But we can't expect law-breakers cover their costs, because then it looks like we are trying to raise money.

Maybe we need to start calling these things "user fees" and "civil penalties" instead of fines.

by Jim Titus on Feb 8, 2011 6:09 pm • linkreport

The probability of being caught by a police officer does not correctly capture the value of police presence; a cop sitting at an intersection will cause better compliance. The officer will catch the drivers that are not paying attention.

The fine should depend only on the offense, not on the means of enforcement.

by goldfish on Feb 9, 2011 8:01 am • linkreport

I too am a bit mystified by David's rationale against increased penalties

Maybe I missed it, but I don't recall David or anyone else arguing against increased penalties, and I would say even the brief text in this post shows a willingness to support/advocate for increased penalties.

I do think I recall reading something on this blog about the better ability of increased enforcement (as opposed to increased penalties) to deter crime, but don't remember for sure if it was this blog or not -- here's a key line from one study done about general crime (not just driver crime) in 1991:

The results point to large deterrent effects emanating from increased certainty of punishment, and much smaller, and generally insignificant effects, stemming from increased severity of sanction.
That's not arguing against increasing penalties/severity of sanctions so much as it's arguing for increased certainty of punishment (i.e. more enforcement).

This kind of makes sense intuitively -- at least to me. If you ask any police chief in America, if they had an unlimited budget, would they like to hire more cops so that they can 'increase the certainty of punishment' -- they'd all unanimously say 'yes' (citizens, on the other hand, might have a different take, because many are more scared of criminal cops than they are criminal non-cops).

and one of the leading arguments against the death penalty is that it doesn't deter homicide (or possibly any crime at all). the death penalty is the most severe legal penalty we have (so, not including torture, because it is, you know, illegal -- allegedly), so if it is not providing a deterrent effect, then we have to allow for the possibility that harsher penalties do not provide any deterrent at all. Research does suggest some minimal level of punishment is necessary to provide any deterrent effect.

many folks (me!) want to get rid of our barbaric drug laws because the insane penalties do not deter crime.

and then we have examples like the plastic bag tax -- a super-small penalty, but 100% chance of 'getting caught,' and boom -- you get a massive shift in behavior, a massive deterrent effect.

on money, the cost of human enforcement for speeding, red light running, drunk driving, etc. is probably huge -- how much of the DC budget goes to trying to prevent outlaw drivers from injuring and killing people? cars are just not worth it.

and that's before we even talk about the economic loss associated with auto traffic collisions/killings/etc. -- said to be up to a 2% of GDP nationally. can't we find a better use for that money? so, not only did an innocent person get killed, it also cost the city $2,600,000.

dealing with auto traffic collisions is putting the squeeze on cities -- somebody's gotta pay.

caused a collision? pay up! people who don't drive in DC would have the right to be bent about subsidizing drivers so heavily.

all that said, it'd be kinda spooky to drive to the office and then have an email waiting for you from the District Police when you get there:

Dear Mr. Smith,

We caught you running that red light at the intersection of 13th and Mass at 8:23 am today. Please remit $350 within two weeks or your license will be suspended. You should receive postal mail on this matter within five business days. If you wish to keep DC above water by 'going paperless' for future 'indiscretions,' please click here.

Thank you for your prompt attention in this matter.

Sincerely,

DC Police

p.s. You might want to lay off the McMuffins -- makes you late for work, so you have to speed. Not good for the heart, either.

I'd rather we just got rid of cars. I was hoping this new Streetfilms series might tell us how to do it, but it looks like it might be more about how to stick poor people on buses or something.

by Peter Smith on Feb 9, 2011 8:02 am • linkreport

@ Peter: Actually, you are touching upon something there: Friendliness in government communications. You're message is much better than what one usually gets from the government. Government communications often are very authoritative, and quite frankly blunt.

by Jasper on Feb 9, 2011 8:56 am • linkreport

@Jazzy
On the one hand, you say:

The argument isn't that we aren't catching people who commit crimes
and in the next breath, you say

The argument is that a high fine that is infrequently enforced (chances of being caught are low) is not going to influence behavior.

Which is it? We aren't catching people, or we are?

Perhaps you can understand my confusion.

I should have been more specific. In the first example I was talking specifically about people who hit someone. You said that in the cases where people have been hit, the driver has stopped. I was saying that enforcement isn't to specifically catch THOSE people, it's to influence the behavior of all.

by MLD on Feb 9, 2011 8:59 am • linkreport

Thanks MLD and Tina, earlier, for responding.

I would like for this blog and its commenters to formulate a position statement and a recommendation on this issue.

To do so, I think, as indicated here, there is a lot of room for misunderstanding each other and the issue. Is it enforcement that's the problem or is the penalty the problem? I think the penalty is too light. I think in the case of hitting people, from what I've read, enforcement of the extremely light penalty is not really the problem - although with that out of state issue I might be wrong. I think the problem, again, is the lack of severity of the penalty. The person who wrote in about the driver who hit a pedestrian in Virginia in the 70s and lost their license is more along the lines of what I'm talking about.

So, before coming up with a recommendation, we need to get much much more clear about where the problem lies and get a clear statement on that, then we can move on to a recommendation.

More clarity and even consensus is needed.

by Jazzy on Feb 9, 2011 9:22 am • linkreport

First, I agree with you that the penalty for injuring or killing a pedestrian with your vehicle should be more severe. Losing your license, huge fines,

That said, the underlying problem is neither the lack of enforcement or weak penalty when people are hurt. Situations like this one and the Alice Swanson incident are "accidents" - nobody was deliberately trying to kill someone with a vehicle. The underlying problem is that we have a culture that has permitted drivers to engage in increasingly risky behavior over the years with no consequences. So by this point people are trained to just not pay any attention, not look when they make turns, not use turn signals, etc. etc.

The solution to this behavioral problem is automated enforcement, because then you can catch a high percentage of these violations (talking about speeding, red light running, not yielding, etc, not hitting people). If you have a 75% chance of being caught when you speed, or go through a red light, then even if the fine is $50 you are more likely to alter your behavior (drive more cautiously).

by MLD on Feb 9, 2011 11:06 am • linkreport

Well, it's getting clearer. And, you agreed that there should be stronger penalties for injuring or killing pedestrians and others, and as for the other solutions you mention, I do not have as clear an opinion, so I'll just let that debate kind of go on. (However, see below)

From my point of view, if we had higher maximum penalties for injuring people in our cars, that would take care of a lot of the problem of reckless driving, while you say that the solution starts before the injury takes place.

You say:
The underlying problem is neither the lack of enforcement or weak penalty when people are hurt.

and then you say:
the underlying problem is that we have a culture that has permitted drivers to engage in increasingly risky behavior over the years with no consequences.

So, to your way of thinking then, there is no problem with the enforcement of the law against drivers who injure pedestrians and others, that the problem occurs due to the lack of enforcement in "routine driving" infractions? Is that correct?

I only want to clarify this (and I am not trying to be difficult, and I'll stop if my doing so can advance a position coming from this blog, and quickly) so that we can get on the same page about what the problem is so that we can then come up with some position statement for a solution.

by Jazzy on Feb 9, 2011 2:20 pm • linkreport

Logically, you could either tax the risky behavior regardless of the consequences (which may be random) or tax it only when there are terrible consequences. We have a tort system that sort-of does the latter.

The problem with only taxing the bad consequences is that it is a bit like a lottery and people have unrealistic assessments about whether they will be the one to have the bad result. So it under-deters even if people always pay for the damages. And they don't, because some people do will not have the money to pay for the damage they do. In effect, giving a drivers license and then only penalizing the bad outcomes is like giving people loans whether they can pay it back or not.

The problem with only taxing the bad behavior is that those who actually kill someone while running a red light probably are, on average, driving worse than those who don't have the accidents. Bad results are not completely random among all violators.

Logically, if revenues are great than costs, they can pay for roads and road safety, reducing the need for subsidies from the general fund and/or taxes or vehicle registration fees.

by JimT on Feb 9, 2011 4:21 pm • linkreport

@Jazzy:
From my point of view, if we had higher maximum penalties for injuring people in our cars, that would take care of a lot of the problem of reckless driving, while you say that the solution starts before the injury takes place.

This is incorrect, because while the number of people being hit as a whole may be higher than we want, the chance of you personally hitting someone are very low. So your chances of encountering that fine are very low, and you would have no reason to alter your behavior.

So, to your way of thinking then, there is no problem with the enforcement of the law against drivers who injure pedestrians and others, that the problem occurs due to the lack of enforcement in "routine driving" infractions? Is that correct?

No and yes. There is a problem with the enforcement of the law against drivers who injure pedestrians and others - they are not punished enough currently. However, that is NOT the
underlying foundational problem. The underlying problem is the lack of enforcement in "routine driving" infractions, which leads to people driving carelessly, which leads to accidents where pedestrians and others get killed.

The vast majority of drivers aren't going out into their car looking to kill a pedestrian with it on any given day. So having a strict punishment for killing/injuring someone with your car isn't exactly a deterrent since people don't see that as part of their daily routine.

But what if you had to pay $50 every time you exceeded the speed limit, or blocked the box, or failed to signal, etc, wouldn't you change your behavior? I'm not saying that's some kind of ideal. I think Peter's idea of the e-mail is interesting though.

by MLD on Feb 9, 2011 5:06 pm • linkreport

So what if you increased the frequency of getting caught and reduced the fine, but required that you pay the fine in person during business hours? Make paying the fine a hassle. Surely the inconvenience of the logistics of paying the fine would be an added deterrent, especially if people have to take off work or are from out of town. This may take the wind out of the revenue controversy.

by twk on Feb 9, 2011 8:58 pm • linkreport

So what if you increased the frequency of getting caught and reduced the fine, but required that you pay the fine in person during business hours? Make paying the fine a hassle.

People wouldn't pay the fine and then you'd have to spend more money on enforcing the fine. If the fine was reduced enough then the enforcement would probably cost more than the fine.

by MLD on Feb 10, 2011 8:47 am • linkreport

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