Traffic Tickets Are Good

As Ottawa tries to nag drivers into complying with local road laws, Slate reports that traffic tickets have their good side:
From 2001 to 2006 (in New York City), the number of fatalities in which speeding was implicated rose 11 percent. During the same period, the number of speeding summons issued by the NYPD dropped 11 percent. Similarly, summonses for red-light-running violations dropped 13 percent between 2006 and 2008, even as the number of crashes increased.
The article describes that in Paris, the opposite dynamic is taking place: more citations issued, while crashes decrease.

Traffic law enforcement in this city is a joke. With all due respect to the brave officers out there on the front lines, there is a nearly universal disdain for traffic regulations in Ottawa.

A lot of it is peer pressure -- if I see someone blow through a stop sign or fail to signal or whatever, there is an increased chance that I will do it myself.

Now to be sure, the laws themselves don't help their own cause. Coming west on the 417 past Moodie, this is an alleged construction zone -- four lanes of freshly laid and painted blacktop climbing the hill to Kanata. The limit here is 80 km/h. It will be raised to 100 km/h once the "construction" is "finished" (whenever that happens). But even before then, you'll routinely see people doing in excess of 120 km/h here. What you won't see very often is any traffic enforcement.

Traffic enforcement is a can't-lose proposition:
  • increase revenues
  • increase respect for the law
  • decrease crashes and associated costs and injuries
If we decide that the laws are too draconian, then it is the laws which should be fixed, legislatively, and not with the "discretion" (read: lack of enforcement) which happens today.