The punishment dilemma versus cutting the road toll Norwegian style

Traffic offences are example of the punishment dilemma: there but for the grace of god I as the offender.

DUI

That makes voters, most of who drive a car, reluctant to support strong punishments for crimes they might happen to commit somewhat accidentally rather than through some malicious intent.

Traffic offences are the breaches of the law  where ordinary citizens are most likely to have encounters with the police and the courts.

This is where the punishment dilemma between obeying the law and brute self-interest are at their sharpest. Everyone wants other people to obey the law , but they are not so sure about themselves, especially when the punishments are harsh.

Juries would not convict drivers for manslaughter so new offences such death by dangerous driving and by negligent driving were introduced with lighter prison terms. People would get a few months for killing people when drunk.

That has changed in recent decades with a hardening of community attitudes to dangerous driving and drunk driving.

An important reason is that with rising incomes, more people can afford a taxi so they a less likely to go down the steps because they are less likely to be caught in a situation of drink-driving or dangerous driving.

Norway has the strictest drink driving laws in Europe:

  • The maximum blood alcohol content is equal to a small glass of a weak drink and heavy punishments with few second chances.
  • The blood-alcohol limit for impaired driving is .02, with stiffer penalties for every point over that.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol is punishable by at least 1 day in jail, a heavy fine and the loss of the driver’s license for a year.
  • Driving with a blood alcohol level of over 1.5 may lead to one year of prison.

Many Norwegians take a taxi to parties while others make arrangements to stay over with the hosts.

In praise of traffic cops

Due to budget cuts, 35% of Oregon State Highway Police were laid off. These mass layoffs dramatically reduced citations and resulted in a 10-20% increase in injuries and fatalities.

The strongest effects were under fair weather conditions outside of city-limits where state police employment levels were most relevant.

These results in DeAngelo and Hansen’s “Life and Death in the Fast Lane: Police Enforcement and Traffic FatalitiesAmerican Economic Journal: Economic Policy 2014 suggest that a highway fatality can be prevented with $309,000 of additional expenditures on traffic police.

A standard measure of the “value of a statistical life” is it is worth taking regulatory or law enforcement actions that reduce the risks of death when the costs of these actions are less than about $9 million per life saved.

Road safety is an area where James Buchanan’s punishment dilemma is strong:

For some laws or behavioural rules, the individual’s self-interest may override adherence [to the law], at least in certain circumstances.

Traffic violations offer a good example here.

Recognizing that he may himself violate traffic regulations on occasion, the individual may be reluctant to accept institutions that impose severe penalties, despite his preferences that all “others” than himself should be led to obey the general rules by sufficiently severe sanctions.

Just as the individual prefers that all others abide voluntarily by law while he remains free to violate it, so, too, he prefers that differentially severe punishment for law violation be meted out to others than himself.

Voters are less than keen to support strong penalties and convict when sitting on juries because of the fear that there but for the grace of god go I: that they would be in the dock at the receiving end of the heavy punishments.

If we commit to punish offenders and those who might commit offenses are deterred by this commitment to punish them, there would be fewer offenses. This also means doing the unpleasant things of meeting out these punishment when there are offenses by the undeterred:

  • It is painful to subject others to punishment (“son, this is going to hurt me as much as it hurts you”); and
  • It is even more painful to vote for penalties that may be imposed on yourself in person.

The initially low penalties for causing death by dangerous driving is an example of the punishment dilemma. These penalties only slowly increased over several decades as societal attitudes hardened.

JoNova

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Peter Winsley

Economics, and such stuff as dreams are made on

A Venerable Puzzle

"The British constitution has always been puzzling, and always will be." --Queen Elizabeth II

Real Time with Bill Maher Blog

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Climate Audit

by Steve McIntyre

New Historical Express

(Formerly Hatful of History)

Science Matters

Reading between the lines, and underneath the hype.

Uneasy Money

Commentary on monetary policy in the spirit of R. G. Hawtrey

The Market Monetarist

Markets Matter, Money Matters...

Truth on the Market

Scholarly commentary on law, economics, and more

Organizations and Markets

Economics of organizations, strategy, entrepreneurship, innovation, and more

John Quiggin

Commentary on Australian and world events from a socialist and democratic viewpoint

The Antiplanner

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Pedestrian Observations

For Walkability and Good Transit, and Against Boondoggles and Pollution

Bet On It

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Trade Diversion

Commentary on development, globalization, and trade by Jonathan Dingel.

Movie Nation

Roger Moore's film criticism, against the grain since 1984.

Weapons and Warfare

History and Hardware of Warfare

fportier.wordpress.com/

Franck Portier's professional page

NZCPR Site

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Anti-Dismal

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Bowalley Road

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

History of Sorts

WORLD WAR II, EIGHTIES, MUSIC, HISTORY, HOLOCAUST

Tudor Chronicles

News, reviews and talk all about the Tudors

Karl du Fresne

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Great Books Guy

Reading The Classics

@STILLTish. Gender Abolition

Examining Gender Identity ideology and its impact on Women's Sex based rights and Gay Rights. Exploring how this has taken such firm root in Western societies (Cognitive & Regulatory Capture).

200-Proof Liberals

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

What Paul Gregory is Writing About

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Offsetting Behaviour

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Conversable Economist

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Barrie Saunders

Thoughts on public policy and the media

The Victorian Commons

Researching the House of Commons, 1832-1868

Coyote Blog

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

The History of Parliament

Blogging on parliament, politics and people, from the History of Parliament

Books & Boots

reflections on books and art

Legal History Miscellany

Posts on the History of Law, Crime, and Justice

Sex, Drugs and Economics

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

%d bloggers like this: