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Do Penalty Points Really Help Identify Bad Drivers? 

Ezra Hauer, Bhagwant N. Persaud, A. Smiley, and D. Duncan. "Estimating the Accident Potential of an Ontario Driver." Accident Analysis and Prevention, 23.2-3 (1991), p. 133.
"A venerable and large body of scientific literature tells us that it is difficult to identify accident-prone drivers on the basis of their record of accidents and convictions for offenses against the traffic law.... This consensus of skeptics has done little to discourage most countries from implementing elaborate 'demerit point' programs, that aim to identify unsafe drivers."

A. Smiley, B. Persaud, E. Hauer, and D. Duncan. "Accidents, Convictions, and Demerit Points: An Ontario Driver Records Study." Transportation Research Record, 1238 (1989), pp. 53, 63.
"It appears that the currently used demerit point system, wherein the number of points associated with an offense reflects the perceived seriousness of the offense, is not a good predictor of accident potential."

"It turned out, for example, that drivers who in 1 yr. had a single speeding conviction had fewer accidents in the remaining 3 yr. than other drivers who had a single conviction in that year for a relatively minor offense, such as a missing lamp."

Wenjun Chen, Peter J. Cooper, and Mario Pinili. "Driver Accident Risk in Relation to the Penalty Point System in British Columbia." Accident Analysis and Prevention, 26.1 (1995), p. 9.
"...prior at-fault accidents were a better predictor of future at-fault accident involvements than were prior convictions."

"Right-of-way infractions such as 'failure-to-yield' and disobeying a traffic signal were found, after accidents, to be the type of preperiod incidents most strongly associated with postperiod crashes."

"The accumulation of roadside suspensions is significantly related to future at-fault crash risk and such categories of violation should, if possible, be assigned an appropriate penalty point level."

 Rev: 1998.09.29 contact SENSEtext map of SENSE web siteback to SENSE home pageback to top of this page