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4 Speed Enforcement and Adjudication Thirty days Hath September April June and the Speed offender Burma Shave (Rowsome 1965) Compliance with any regulation such as a speed limit requires that it represent a reasonable constraint on behavior. In the preceding chap- ter, a range of methods for setting reasonable speed limits was dis- cussed, reflecting trade-offs among safety, travel time, and enforceability on different types of roads and roadway environments. In this chapter, two additional requirements for driver compliance are considered: public support and consistent enforcement. 139
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MANAGING SPEED 140 Public support (i.e., willingness to obey) is closely linked with and should follow from the first requirement, that is, reasonableness of speed limits. For compliance with speed limits to be at a high level, a majority of the driving public must perceive them to be legitimate and comply with them voluntarily. Otherwise, large numbers of motorists will disregard the limits. In this situation, if attempts are made to enforce them, large numbers of violations will overwhelm the law enforcement community--the police, the prosecutors, and the courts. Moreover, without strong public support, law enforce- ment agents themselves may be reluctant to enforce the speed lim- its. This response is typical of laws that are viewed as nonlegitimate in the eyes of the public (Wilson 1983; Ross 1973; Ross 1982). Of course, a combination of reasonable speed limits, sustained enforce- ment, and education may change driver behavior toward speed com- pliance, but this requires the perception that speeding is a safety problem and a long-term effort to change driver attitudes and behavior. Even if speed limit regulations are generally viewed as legitimate by most motorists, enforcement is essential to ensure conformity of the remaining drivers who will obey the laws only if they believe they are likely to be apprehended and prosecuted for noncompliance. In this chapter, appropriate methods of speed enforcement and adjudi- cation are considered. The chapter begins with a discussion of the role of deterrence, surveillance, and sanctions in ensuring compliance with speed limits. Then, evidence of the effectiveness and the limita- tions of traditional enforcement methods on speed choice and safety outcomes is considered. Next, the potential of automated technolo- gies and public information programs to supplement traditional enforcement methods is reviewed. The role of the courts in adjudica- tion of speeding violations is then considered. Finally, key conclu- sions concerning enforcement of speed limits and related judicial procedures are summarized. LESSONS FROM DETERRENCE THEORY Enforcement works primarily through the principle of deterrence. The fundamental idea is that credible threats of punishment deter
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141 Speed Enforcement and Adjudication unwanted behavior.1 More specifically, the proscribed behavior is dis- couraged by the perception that legal punishment is "swift, sure, and severe" (Ross and LaFree 1986, 132). Elements of the Deterrence Process The effectiveness of deterrence depends on several factors. First, the proscribed behavior must be definable, understandable, and detectable, not only by the individuals to be deterred but also by those who are expected to enforce compliance and penalize those who do not comply (TRB 1987, 91). In the case of speeding, police officers must be able to reliably verify vehicle speeds and provide evi- dence that will hold up in court. Second, the effectiveness of deterrence depends on the perceived risk of apprehension (TRB 1987, 91; Shinar and McKnight 1985, 387). For the risk to be credible, drivers must believe that they have a nontrivial chance of being apprehended if they engage in the pro- scribed behavior. Thus, some minimum level of enforcement leading to actual apprehension is necessary (Shinar and McKnight 1985, 407). A well-designed publicity campaign coupled with visible enforcement will expand the perception of risk to a large segment of the target population (Shinar and McKnight 1985, 409). Third, the effectiveness of deterrence depends on the swiftness, certainty, and severity of the punishment (TRB 1987, 91). Empirical research suggests that the perceived certainty of punishment is a more powerful deterrent than the severity of the penalty (Shinar and McKnight 1985, 387).2 One explanation is that, if the risk of pun- 1 The approach is based on the philosophic view that human behavior is rational and that human beings behave to maximize personal pleasure and minimize pain. Thus, unwanted behavior can be deterred by increasing the costs of an undesired behavior so that it outweighs the benefits (Ross and LaFree 1986, 130). 2 In principle, the behavior of potential scofflaws should be affected by both the cer- tainty and severity of punishment, and illegal behavior should decline when either the certainty or the severity of the penalty is increased. However, empirical research has found that, for a series of crimes, the response depends much more on the certainty than on the severity of the penalty (Waldo and Chiricos 1972; Sellin 1967; Tittle 1969;
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MANAGING SPEED 142 ishment is so low that the violator regards the threat as negligible, then the severity of the punishment is irrelevant (Ross and LaFree 1986, 144).3 In addition, more severe penalties may actually reduce the deterrence effect by requiring more legal representation, which precludes swift punishment and may lessen the likelihood of receiving any penalty at all (Ross 1990 in Zaal 1994, 11). However, debate con- tinues about just how immediate the penalty must be to provide an effective deterrent (Harper 1991 in Zaal 1994, 12). Role of Police and the Courts The effectiveness of deterrence is also influenced by actions of the police and the courts who carry out the apprehension and punish- ment of lawbreakers. The traditional police role in controlling vehi- cle speeds is to detect, apprehend, and punish the speeding driver. Like other traffic violations, penalties for speeding include fines; some states assess penalty points that can lead to license revocation. If a court hearing is involved, judges have discretion to vary the penalties. Traditional police enforcement works in two ways: through detec- tion and punishment of specific drivers who exceed the speed limit and through deterrence of speeding behavior in general. The first method, often referred to as specific deterrence, is based on the idea that individual drivers who are caught and punished for speeding will be deterred from committing further speeding violations. The second method, known as general deterrence, is based on the assumption that the process of apprehending individual violators can influence the behavior of a larger segment of the driving population. More specifi- cally, police presence alerts drivers that traffic violations, including those related to speeding, are being enforced. In turn, increased Teeven 1972; Chauncey 1975; Silberman 1976; Piliavin et al. 1986; Blumstein et al. 1978; Wilson 1983; Brier and Fienberg 1980; Cameron 1988). 3 Increased severity of penalties can also produce undesired and unanticipated side effects through the discretion of legal agents who are perceived as unfairly apprehend- ing a random sample of a much larger population who were simply lucky enough not to get caught (Ross and LaFree 1986, 144).
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143 Speed Enforcement and Adjudication enforcement raises the perceived probability of being caught for speeding and thus helps deter unwanted speeding behavior. Successful deterrence, however, may have the undesired effect of reducing the level of police surveillance and enforcement. Just as drivers increase their compliance as the perceived likelihood of apprehension rises, police may reduce their level of enforcement activity when the unwanted behavior diminishes (Tsebelis 1993, 366367).4 This close coupling of behavioral adaptation by the police and the driving public provides one explanation for the difficulty of sustaining the deterrence effects of traditional enforcement methods (Tsebelis 1993, 366; Bjørnskau and Elvik 1990, 139). It also suggests that random or automated surveillance methods that break this behavioral link may offer more effective ways of maintaining high levels of enforcement (Bjørnskau and Elvik 1990, 140141); this topic is discussed in a subsequent section. The courts can also deter speeding, but the effect on driver behav- ior is less direct. The lag between apprehension and punishment is likely to reduce the deterrence effect of sanctions on speeding drivers. Moreover, court discretion in assessing penalties for speeding, if viewed as arbitrary and unfair, can have the undesired effect of turn- ing public opinion against enforcement and adjudication methods. If judges perceive speed limits to be unreasonable and routinely dismiss speeding citations, the incentive of the police to enforce the limits may be reduced. Lessons for Enforcement To optimize use of their limited resources, the police and the courts attempt to achieve the widest possible deterrence through enforce- ment and sanctions. The effectiveness of deterrence depends on cre- ation of a widely perceived impression that noncompliers will be detected and apprehended if they engage in the proscribed behavior. 4 This interpretation derives from a game theoretic approach to enforcement. The approach suggests that the public and the police are engaged in a game in which the prob- ability of surveillance is not independent of the level of the crime (Tsebelis 1990; Tsebelis 1993; Cox 1994; Hirshleifer and Rasmusen 1992; Weissing and Ostrom 1991).
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MANAGING SPEED 144 This impression, in turn, must be accompanied by swift, sure, and publicized punishment to establish a credible threat. The application of these principles to speed enforcement is discussed in the following section. APPLICATION OF DETERRENCE THEORY TO SPEED ENFORCEMENT Speed Enforcement Strategies Speed enforcement using mobile patrol vehicles measuring driving speeds with radar is the most popular means of conducting speed enforcement in the United States, according to a special survey con- ducted for this study (Figure 4-1).5 State police use aircraft as well as laser and VASCAR for speed detection.6 The mobile patrol method involves a police vehicle circulating through traffic and citing speeding drivers. Stationary patrol enforce- ment, where a marked or unmarked police car parked along the side of the roadway uses radar or LIDAR to measure speeds, is another common technique (Stuster 1995, A4A8). Apprehension of speed- ing drivers occurs downstream of the monitoring vehicle, sometimes with another patrol officer. The merits of mobile and stationary patrols have been a topic of study. The former is effective in detecting specific violators and slow- ing traffic in the immediate vicinity of the patrol car (Stuster 1995, A6). The latter is effective in deterring speeding at a particular loca- tion (Stuster 1995, A7). The advantages and disadvantages of visible and concealed enforcement have also been studied. One purpose of concealed enforcement is to increase the uncertainty of where and 5 The survey of state law enforcement agencies was conducted by the Illinois State Police. Responses were received from 34 (68 percent) of the 50 state agencies respon- sible for traffic law enforcement. 6 Laser speed guns use LIDAR technology, which stands for Light Distance and Ranging. VASCAR stands for Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder (Coleman et al. 1996, xixii). VASCAR is a time-distance speed-measuring device that does not transmit a signal but computes vehicle travel time between two points. It can operate in a stationary or mobile mode in a patrol car, motorcycle, or airplane.
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145 Speed Enforcement and Adjudication Figure 4-1 Percentage of state law enforcement agencies using the top 10 enforcement strategies, based on replies to a survey of 50 state agen- cies responsible for traffic law enforcement conducted for this study. Responses were received from 34 of the 50 agencies. when enforcement will occur. As a result of its limited visibility, how- ever, its general deterrence effect appears to be limited (Shinar and McKnight 1985, 393394). Moreover, in jurisdictions where radar detectors are permitted, concealed police vehicles may be "seen" and their location communicated to others by CB radios, thereby com- promising their concealment. Resources for Speed Enforcement When the 55-mph (89-km/h) National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) was in effect and states were required to document speed compliance levels or face penalties, only one on-duty state highway patrol officer, on the average, was available to patrol every 190 mi (306 km) of highways posted at the 55-mph limit (TRB 1984, 162). Comparable figures are not available today, but a special survey of
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MANAGING SPEED 146 state agencies responsible for traffic law enforcement conducted for this study provides some data on current levels of effort on speed enforcement. Data on costs of traffic enforcement, if properly collected, could provide valuable additional information. However, they are not routinely collected because of the difficulty and cost of doing so. The percentage of law enforcement resources devoted to speed enforcement varies widely by state (Figure 4-2). More than half of the state law enforcement agencies contacted for this study reported that they spend less than 50 percent of their time in speed enforce- ment.7 One-quarter of the respondents spend 50 percent or more. In addition, since repeal of the NMSL in 1995, the majority of state law enforcement agencies reported "no change" (38 percent) or reduc- tions (24 percent) in the time expended on speed enforcement. Those who reduced effort cited budget cuts or substitution of other activi- ties, such as community policing and investigations. Nearly one-third of the agencies (32 percent), however, reported increased time devoted to speed enforcement.8 Given these data, if limited resources are not to be squandered, whatever speed enforcement is undertaken must be effective. Effectiveness of Traditional Speed Enforcement A critical difficulty in deterring speeding using traditional methods is maintaining the effect over time and space. The longevity of effects can be expressed in terms of a "halo," that is, the spatial or temporal extent of the deterrence effect from the enforcement officer. Hauer and Ahlin (1982) investigated both effects by measuring vehicle speeds before, during, and after enforcement using stationary, marked police vehicles on semirural, two-lane roads. Similar to earlier stud- ies, the researchers found a marked reduction in average traffic speeds in the vicinity of the enforcement site to speeds close to posted speed limits (Hauer and Ahlin 1982, 277). Reduction in speed dispersion, 7 Comparable figures could not be found for county or municipal law enforcement agencies. 8 The remaining 6 percent were unable to offer any comparative data.
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Figure 4-2 Time expended on speed enforcement as a percentage of total enforcement efforts, based on replies to a survey of 50 state agencies responsible for traffic law enforcement con- ducted for this study. Responses were received from 34 of the 50 agencies.
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MANAGING SPEED 148 however, was less pronounced. Moreover, the distance-halo effect decayed quickly downstream of the enforcement site, following the gen- eral decay pattern of earlier studies (Hauer and Ahlin 1982, 277).9 With regard to the time-halo effect, average traffic speeds remained depressed for 3 d following a single episode of enforcement activity and for considerably longer (up to 6 d) with repeated enforcement (Hauer and Ahlin 1982, 275). Similar results were found for the effect of police presence on urban driving speeds (Armour 1986, 45). Increasing enforcement intensity should, according to deterrence theory, boost the deterrence effect by increasing the perceived risk of apprehension. In a review of European studies, Østvik and Elvik con- cluded that enforcement intensity must be increased significantly--to more than three times the initial level--before there is an appreciable effect on the perceived risk of detection or reduction in the number of speeding offenses (1991, 57).10 Studies of experience from other enforcement campaigns that have significantly increased the certainty of apprehension, such as anti-drunk-driving programs, have found the same effect. Positive behavioral and safety effects are evident immedi- ately after the adoption of the program. With a major initiative, the effect can last from a few months to a few years (Ross 1984, 29). However, deterrence effects of even a major program can diminish with time (Ross 1984, 29). One explanation for this effect is the pre- viously discussed behavioral adaptation of the police to the success of the program (Tsebelis 1993, 366). Another reason is that enforcement may deter the unwanted behavior but does not necessarily change the underlying attitudes that ultimately determine the behavior (De Waard and Rooijers 1994, 764; Rothengatter 1988, 599). There is some evidence that those who drive well in excess of the speed limit are the most impervious to the deterrence effects of tra- ditional enforcement methods. A recent study of an intensive police 9 Hauer and Ahlin found that the effect of enforcement was reduced by half for approximately every 2,953 ft (900 m) downstream from the enforcement site (Hauer and Ahlin 1982, 277). 10 According to the reviewers, increasing the level of enforcement by more then five times the initial level increases the perceived risk of detection, reduces the percentage of offenders, and may reduce the number of crashes by up to 20 to 30 percent (Østvik and Elvik 1991, 57).
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149 Speed Enforcement and Adjudication intervention to reduce speeding on a 40-mph (64-km/h) urban road in northern England found a greater reduction in the number of driv- ers breaking the speed limit by a small amount than in the number exceeding the limit by 20 mph (32 km/h) or more (Holland and Conner 1996, 595). This finding corroborates a related drivers' sur- vey (part of the same study), which indicated that those who admit- ted to breaking the speed limit by a large amount in the past showed more intention to speed in the future than did those who admitted to speeding by smaller amounts (Holland and Conner 1996, 595). As discussed in Chapter 2, driving well in excess of average speeds is associated with both higher crash probability and greater crash sever- ity. This finding is confirmed by recent evidence from British Columbia that drivers with four or more excessive speed convictions had almost twice the overall crash rate of drivers whose most serious multiple offenses were simply exceeding the posted speed limit (Cooper 1997, 94). Roadway environment and traffic density also affect the success of traditional enforcement methods. Poor roadway geometry makes it difficult to station a patrol vehicle to take accurate speed measure- ments. In urban areas, high traffic volumes can hamper efforts to monitor speeding and apprehend violators (Shinar and McKnight 1985, 398). In very congested traffic, speed enforcement becomes irrelevant. Implications for Enforcement Strategies The foregoing evidence on the deterrence effect of traditional enforcement methods has several implications for both the uses and limitations of these methods. First, traditional enforcement "works" when the level of enforcement is sufficient to convince most drivers of the strong likelihood of detection and sanctions if they exceed the speed limit. Moreover, the level of effort must be maintained, placing a strain on most enforcement agency budgets, if the deterrence effect is to be sustained. Drivers generally revert to standard behavior once enforcement is reduced. Thus, to ensure a high level of compliance, speed limits have to be set at levels that are largely self-enforcing, or at the lowest speed the police are able to enforce.
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155 Speed Enforcement and Adjudication reduction in injury crashes for 64 road sections with ASE (Elvik 1997, 17).17 The largest reductions were found on sections that met two criteria that are currently used for ASE road selection: (a) a crash rate criterion, that is, crash rates higher than for similar road classes, and (b) a crash density criterion, that is, injury crash levels greater than or equal to 0.5 injury crashes per kilometer per year (Elvik 1997, 14). Nonrandom selection of study sites, however, limits generaliza- tion of the results. Data from Norway were combined with results from 15 other data sets of reported effectiveness of ASE, primarily in other European countries.18 The combined data indicated that a sta- tistically significant 17 percent average injury crash reduction accom- panied the introduction of photo radar (Elvik 1997, 18). Photo radar has been used sparingly in the United States. Programs are currently operating in four states--Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, and California (see Appendix D for details). Two of the best-known programs--in Paradise Valley, a small community in the Phoenix metropolitan area, and in Pasadena, California--operated for several years. Photo radar was deployed in staffed police vehicles on residential and arterial streets in both locations (Blackburn and Gilbert 1995, 34). Police data suggest that crashes were reduced, but scientifically designed studies of program effectiveness have not been conducted (Blackburn and Gilbert 1995, 37). Public opinion surveys conducted in both communities found high awareness of and support for the programs; nearly 60 percent of the respondents from both communities approved of the use of photo radar (Freedman et al. 1990, 62). However, a sizable minority (37 percent) disapproved. Since the survey was conducted, the Pasadena program has been ter- minated because of erosion of public support, loss of the equipment 17 The analysis controlled for potential bias from regression to the mean. This adjust- ment was necessary because abnormally high crash rates are one of the criteria for using ASE; thus selection bias is potentially a serious source of error (Elvik 1997, 15). 18 The countries are Germany, Sweden, England, the Netherlands, and Australia (Elvik 1997, 18). A statistical technique known as the logodds method of meta-analy- sis was used to combine the results. The method was essentially the same as combin- ing the data from the 64 individual road sections in Norway. The results were then weighted by the crash sample size from each country to derive a weighted mean change in injury crashes (Elvik 1997, 18).
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MANAGING SPEED 156 vendor, and a reduction in police personnel (for more details see Appendix D). The primary issues regarding photo radar use in the United States are not technical but rather legal and political. Constitutional issues, such as the right to privacy and protection against illegal search and seizure, are frequently raised by opponents of photo radar use. However, state and Supreme Court decisions have ruled that driving on a public highway does not afford protections cited in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is difficult to prove that photo radar is an unreasonable exercise of police power because of its minimal intrusiveness and its legitimate public safety purpose (Gilbert 1996, 9). Owner versus driver issues are another legal concern. Deployment of photo radar systems is simplest when the law holds vehicle own- ers responsible for speeding violations whether or not they were driv- ing at the time of the infraction.19 This reduces the burden of providing a clear frontal photograph of the driver.20 Owner liability typically requires enabling legislation such as has been passed in Australia, the Netherlands, and some U.S. jurisdictions (Gilbert 1996, 7).21 This legislation is easier to enact if the sanctions are civil rather than criminal. This approach treats the violation much the same as a parking ticket. In many European countries and in Australia, however, fines are graduated according to the amount of the speed violation; points can be assessed against the driver's record, and licenses can be suspended for excessive speeding--presumably with a somewhat greater deterrence effect. Public opinion is another important issue. Surveys conducted in Paradise Valley and Pasadena found that the primary objections to photo radar were the possibility of error (i.e., the wrong person gets 19 Recent research on red light running in the United States found that most drivers who were ticketed were driving their own cars (Retting et al. 1998). 20 Of course, the owner has a clear defense if the vehicle was reported stolen prior to the time of the violation (Gilbert 1996, 7). 21 The Paradise Valley Ordinance, for example, provides that the owner or person in whose name the vehicle is registered pursuant to Arizona state law shall be held prima facie responsible for any speeding violation. The District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, California, Virginia, and Utah have similar statutes (Gilbert 1996, 7).
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157 Speed Enforcement and Adjudication the ticket) and perceived fairness (e.g., entrapment, lack of personal contact to explain mitigating circumstances) (Freedman et al. 1990, 65). The efficiency of photo radar in detecting speed violations can easily turn public opinion against use of the system and has been responsible for terminating some programs (Blackburn and Gilbert 1995, 3336). One method of addressing the fairness and "big brother" concerns is to publicize any program using photo radar at its inception, perhaps use warnings rather than fines at first, and to pro- vide signs informing the public that ASE is in force along highways where the devices may be in use (Gilbert 1996, 9). There are costs associated with the acquisition, deployment, oper- ation, and maintenance of ASE equipment. However, photo radar can generate revenue, which can partially or completely offset such costs.22 From the public perspective, one issue is who receives the revenues and for what purpose. In many U.S. communities, fines go to the jurisdiction rather than the local police department, with the result that the police are unable to cover program costs and thus drop the program. Another issue is use of the revenues; the public will not be supportive if they believe the devices are being deployed as fund- raising "speed traps." Current experience suggests that photo radar's success depends heavily on how it is introduced. First, it is important to deploy photo radar at sites where the safety record indicates and the public per- ceives there is a problem, perhaps including school and construction zones, locations with high crash rates, and sites where traditional police enforcement can be dangerous (e.g., urban Interstates) (Streff and Schultz 1992). In some locations, communities have been involved in selection of these locations. To avoid any perception of entrapment, it would be wise to set high enforcement thresholds at first, targeting excessive speed limit violators [e.g., 20 mph (32 km/h) 22 Most U.S. cities with ASE programs contract with a vendor to provide and support the equipment, train police officers, handle and process the film, research department of motor vehicle records, prepare citations, provide special photographic evidence for trials, and even provide expert testimony during trials (Blackburn and Gilbert 1995, 24). Depending on the penalty structure for speeding offenses, the program can be self- supporting.
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MANAGING SPEED 158 or more over the speed limit].23 Coupling the introduction of photo radar programs with high-visibility publicity campaigns can increase public awareness and inform motorists of how, where, and why the system will operate. Although these measures cannot guarantee suc- cess, they can ameliorate key obstacles to successful photo radar use. Publicity Whether new or conventional enforcement technologies are used, the effectiveness of speed enforcement can be enhanced by well-designed public information programs. Publicizing an enforcement program should increase driver awareness and expectation of intensified enforcement levels (Zaal 1994, 23). Of course, the publicity must be followed up with an active enforcement effort if the general deter- rence effect is to be sustained. A further benefit of publicity programs is to increase public awareness of the reasons for the enforcement effort, which may help change underlying attitudes about the pro- scribed behavior or, at a minimum, create a more supportive climate for the enforcement program (Zaal 1994, 23). Empirical evidence corroborates these effects. For example, expe- rience with well-publicized anti-drunk-driving programs both abroad and in the United States suggests that sustained programs can deter drinking and driving (TRB 1987, 149150). At least part of the decline in alcohol-related fatalities over the past decade can be attrib- uted to a change in attitudes from greater publicity about the hazards of driving drunk and intensified enforcement.24 Publicity campaigns in combination with primary belt use laws25 and stepped-up enforce- ment have also resulted in sustained increases in safety belt use in several communities (Williams et al. 1996; Jonah et al. 1982). 23 Again, this can be a two-edged sword if drivers perceive that the de facto speed limit is 20 mph (32 km/h) or more over the posted speed limit. 24 The 17,126 alcohol-related fatalities in 1996 (41 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year) represents a 29 percent reduction from the 24,045 alcohol-related fatalities reported in 1986 (52 percent of the total) (NHTSA 1997, 1). 25 Primary belt use laws enable law enforcement officers to stop and fine drivers who are not wearing safety belts.
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159 Speed Enforcement and Adjudication A study of special speed enforcement programs in two California cities with extensive publicity programs to increase public awareness found statistically significant reductions in speed-related crashes (Stuster 1995, iii). Moreover, the general deterrence effect appeared to spill over and contribute to reductions in certain types of crimes (Stuster 1995, iv). However, permanent behavior changes are not easy to achieve, as the experience with drunk driving and other public health initiatives such as antismoking campaigns has shown. A large-scale review of 87 road safety mass media campaigns for which some scientific evalua- tion had been performed found that, on the average, publicity cam- paigns can be expected to achieve about a 30 percent increase in awareness, but only a 5 percent change in attitudes and a 1 percent change in driver intentions (Elliott 1993, iv). Publicity is most effec- tive when it is combined with enforcement in a long-term effort. SANCTIONS AND ADJUDICATION The courts play a key role in speed enforcement. Judges can undermine police enforcement by throwing out speeding violations or reducing fines when they believe that the limits are arbitrary or unreasonable or that the fines are too harsh. Thus the police and the traffic judges must agree that the speed limits are sensible if they are to be enforced. Consistent treatment of speeding violations by the courts is also important to defuse any public perception that traffic regulations for speeding are arbitrary or capricious. Development of sentencing guidelines and training for traffic court judges who handle speeding violations can help ensure consistent treatment of violators. Licensing point demerit systems, which impose a system of gradu- ated penalties for speeding and other traffic violations, have already assisted in reducing inconsistencies in penalty assessments. The deterrence effect of sanctions for speeding violations is limited if lengthy court backlogs create a substantial lag between detection and punishment. New speed enforcement technologies, particularly photo radar, can simplify and streamline the adjudication process. For example, if speeding violations are treated as civil infractions, like parking tickets, with comparably priced fees, adjudication can be han-
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MANAGING SPEED 160 dled administratively for the most part, with a high potential for reducing court hearings and costs. Further, if legislation holds the owner of the vehicle responsible for the speeding violation as opposed to the driver, greater efficiencies can result. For example, when such vicarious liability legislation was passed in New South Wales, Australia, the cost of processing speeding offenses was reduced by approximately 50 percent (South et al. 1988 in Zaal 1994, 21). A system that involves only civil sanctions and administrative adju- dication procedures, however, is likely to have a limited deterrence effect. A fine for a speeding violation would not be reported on a driv- er's record; hence, no penalty would be imposed for repeated offenses. In addition, if fines are kept low to discourage costly court hearings and appeals, drivers may receive the message that the infraction is minor. Thus, efficiency may be gained at the price of effectiveness. Some successful photo radar programs use a combined approach. For example, the Victoria, Australia, photo radar program introduced an automated traffic infringement notice (TIN) penalty system to allow efficient processing of offenses. The TIN informs the vehicle owner of the details of the offense as well as the penalties. The latter increase with the level of speeding over the posted speed limit; a combination of fines, license demerit points, or immediate license suspension may be imposed depending on the severity of the offense (Cameron et al. 1992, i). The vehicle's registered owner is liable for the penalties unless the owner identifies the driver at the time of the offense (Cameron et al. 1992, i). The U.S. Paradise Valley photo radar program offers a similar com- bined approach. Drivers caught speeding 20 mph (32 km/h) or less over the posted speed limit are charged with a civil infraction. Those caught speeding more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit are charged with a misdemeanor (i.e., a criminal traffic offense) (Blackburn and Gilbert 1995, 22). If the civil infraction is ignored, a second notice is sent and the owner's driver's license is suspended until the fine is paid. If the criminal offense is ignored, the owner's driver's license is sus- pended and an arrest warrant is issued (Blackburn and Gilbert 1995, 22). An analysis of citations issued under the Paradise Valley ASE pro- gram in 1988 and 1989 found that most of those cited opted to pay the fine (31 percent) or attend a defensive driving class (37 percent). Fewer
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161 Speed Enforcement and Adjudication than 1 percent of the cases emanating from the citations went to trial, and, of these, the city prosecutor's office had an 82 percent conviction rate (Blackburn and Gilbert 1995, 22). In contrast, the Pasadena photo radar program, which did not have owner liability legislation and involved only monetary fines with limited provision for nonpayment, had large increases in speeding violators who ignored citations and declines in conviction rates as the program matured, which helped con- tribute to its demise (Blackburn and Gilbert 1995, 23). SUMMARY Enforcement and sanctions are necessary complements to speed lim- its. Simply posting a speed limit sign will not achieve desired driving speeds. Even if most drivers believe the limits are reasonable and com- ply with them, enforcement is essential to ensure conformity of the remaining drivers. Because the police have other important enforce- ment priorities and limited resources, their preferred strategy is to cre- ate a widely perceived impression that those who exceed the speed limits beyond some small tolerance band will be detected and appre- hended. This approach is successful only if motorists perceive that they have a nontrivial chance of being apprehended if they speed. The problem with traditional enforcement methods is their short- lived effect in deterring noncompliers. Extending the effect typically requires a level of enforcement intensity that exceeds the resources provided to the police for speed enforcement and other priorities. Policy makers can increase the resources directed toward speed enforcement, but providing adequate enforcement levels is expensive. One approach is to stretch existing resources by increasing the effectiveness of traditional enforcement methods. Planned patrols at varying time intervals and locations on a highway section can extend the time- and, to a lesser extent, the distance-halo effects of enforce- ment. The effect can be sustained even with reduced patrols but only after a lengthy period of continuous initial enforcement. Some suc- cess has also been documented from selective targeting of enforce- ment at high hazard locations and on roads and at times when high-risk, speed-related behaviors are most common and traffic vol- umes are sufficient to justify the effort. Systematic safety gains from
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MANAGING SPEED 162 this approach are difficult to sustain because of the relative infre- quency of crashes. ASE technologies, particularly photo radar, offer an effective means of substantially increasing the intensity of enforcement and thereby the deterrence effect on speeding. Photo radar is widely used for speed control in Europe and Australia, with dramatic reductions in excessive speeding [i.e., exceeding the speed limit with a 10-mph (16-km/h) tolerance] and related reductions in casualty crash fre- quency. Photo radar use in the United States is limited because of legal and political, rather than technical, issues. If introduced selec- tively at first--at especially hazardous roads and locations with high crash rates--photo radar is likely to gain essential public support. Whether new or traditional enforcement technologies are used, a well-designed public information program can help boost the deter- rence effect. Publicity increases awareness and expectations of inten- sified enforcement. It can educate the public about the reasons for enforcement. To be credible, publicity must be followed up with an active enforcement effort. Although not part of the enforcement process, the courts play a major role in ensuring motorist compliance with speed limits. Support of traffic court judges is essential to ensure that speeding violations are treated seriously and that offenders are handled consis- tently. Automated enforcement has the potential to reduce court backlogs and shorten the time between detection and punishment by substituting administrative adjudication procedures and civil sanc- tions (like parking fines) for some speeding infractions. The current system of speed limits, enforcement, and adjudication, however, is not effective for all situations. Other speed management strategies, some of which are reviewed in the next chapter, may be required. REFERENCES ABBREVIATIONS NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration TRB Transportation Research Board Armour, M. 1986. The Effect of Police Presence on Urban Driving Speeds. ITE Journal, Feb., pp. 4045.
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