SWOV Catalogus


Assessing specific deterrence effects of increased speeding penalties using four measures of recidivism.
20200441 ST [electronic version only]
Watson, B. Siskind, V. Fleiter, J. Watson, A. & Soole, D.
Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol. 84 (November 2015), p. 27-37, ref.

Samenvatting Traffic law enforcement sanctions can impact on road user behaviour through general and specific deterrence mechanisms. The manner in which specific deterrence can influence recidivist behaviour can be conceptualised in different ways. While any reduction in speeding will have road safety benefits, the ways in which a ‘reduction’ is determined deserves greater methodological attention and has implications for countermeasure evaluation more generally. The primary aim of this research was to assess the specific deterrent impact of penalty increases for speeding offences in Queensland, Australia, in 2003 on two cohorts of drivers detected for speeding prior to and after the penalty changes were investigated. Since the literature is relatively silent on how to assess recidivism in the speeding context, the secondary research aim was to contribute to the literature regarding ways to conceptualise and measure specific deterrence in the speeding context. We propose a novel way of operationalising four measures which reflect different ways in which a specific deterrence effect could be conceptualised: (1) the proportion of offenders who re-offended in the follow up period; (2) the overall frequency of re-offending in the follow up period; (3) the length of delay to re-offence among those who re-offended; and (4) the average number of re-offences during the follow up period among those who re-offended. Consistent with expectations, results suggested an absolute deterrent effect of penalty changes, as evidenced by significant reductions in the proportion of drivers who re-offended and the overall frequency of re-offending, although effect sizes were small. Contrary to expectations, however, there was no evidence of a marginal specific deterrent effect among those who re-offended, with a significant reduction in the length of time to re-offence and no significant change in the average number of offences committed. Additional exploratory analyses investigating potential influences of the severity of the index offence, offence history, and method of detection revealed mixed results. Access to additional data from various sources suggested that the main findings were not influenced by changes in speed enforcement activity, public awareness of penalty changes, or driving exposure during the study period. Study limitations and recommendations for future research are discussed with a view to promoting more extensive evaluations of penalty changes and better understanding of how such changes may impact on motorists’ perceptions of enforcement and sanctions, as well as on recidivist behaviour. (Author/publisher)
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