A Guide to the Use of Penalties to Improve Road Safety

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This Guide provides information about different types of penalties that have been applied to traffic offences.
Penalties for traffic offences are a critical component of behaviour change techniques that have been used
extensively with the aim of encouraging road users to comply with traffic laws and to use the road system
safely. Having evidence-based legislation in place is important, but alone, it will not sufficiently deter illegal behaviours. Compliance with traffic laws can be achieved from the combined effects of legislation, increased
public awareness, enforcement, and penalties. This Guide focuses on the penalty component only.

This Guide describes ways in which a robust penalty system may be implemented and draws on international evidence to inform recommendations. It is important to note that there is no pre-defined way to easily determine how severe a penalty should be to deter people from committing a traffic offence. Different penalties are likely to impact people in different ways.

For example, a monetary fine might be meaningful and influential for someone with limited financial resources, yet may have no influence on the offending behaviour of someone who can easily afford to pay the monetary fine. Conversely, a person with greater financial means
may be influenced more effectively by receiving a demerit point penalty than a monetary fine.