Photo: Flickr / Dario.C
Punishing drivers with ticket fines for violating traffic codes is ineffective, Tom Vanderbilt writes for The New York Times’ Room for Debate.This week’s debate questioned whether the “broken windows” policy of the 90s — that is, fining people for traffic violations to reduce crime — should be taken seriously again in New York City.
Vanderbilt doesn’t think so. Giving drivers warning is enough to change their habits over time, he says.
He references a study conducted in Miami Beach that found traffic violations decreased dramatically over a two-week period when police consistently reminded drivers to yield to red lights and pedestrians.
“This imparts the idea that the driver has violated some community norm, and reminds him (and other drivers who pass by) that there are police looking after those norms,” says Vanderbilt, author of “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us).”
But it may take a while for that idea to come to fruition. As we’ve reported, many cash-strapped cities have profited from ticketing drivers. One red-light camera in Oakland, Calif. made $3 million per year from fines.
Vanderbilt insists the profits from ticketing drivers isn’t enough to dent the cost of injuries. For example, he notes pedestrian injuries costs San Francisco $20 billion per year, according to a study from the University of California, San Francisco. Most of that money is paid by citizens.
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