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Repeat speeding offenders – Time to stop thinking of them as just ‘unlucky normal’ drivers

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  1. Repeat speeding offenders – Time to stop thinking of them as just ‘unlucky normal’ drivers Dr Judy Fleiter Edmonton’s International Conference on Urban Traffic Safety, 23-26 April 2012 CRICOS No. 00213J

  2. Acknowledgements • Co-researchers • Barry Watson, Vic Siskind, Angela Watson • Australian Research Council • Department of Transport and Main Roads • Queensland Police Service • Office of Economic and Statistical Research • Australian Postgraduate Award

  3. Overview • Speeding and crash involvement in Australia • Speeding recidivist research in Queensland • Challenges from an Australian perspective • Defining speeding • Community attitudes to speeding • Auditor-General reviews of speed camera programs • Implications for future speed management

  4. Australia Australia = 22.8 million people Queensland = 4.5 million people Land area = 1.7 million km2 Driver’s licences = 3.1 million Reg.vehicles = 4.3 million Brisbane

  5. Australian Road Deaths:Improvements from 1970-2010 30.4 deaths/100,000 people 6.1 deaths/100,000 people With a 2-fold increase in vehicles & 50% growth in population

  6. Improvements in Road Safety in Queensland since 1967

  7. Speed management in Australia (1) • Over the last 2 decades, jurisdictions have adopted a ‘holistic’ approach to reducing speeding: • Road environment improvements (e.g. lower urban speed limits, school zones, road treatments) • Enforcement programs (e.g. traffic patrols, fixed & mobile speed cameras, point-to-point cameras) • Education programs (e.g. mass media education) • Intelligent Transport System (ITS) measures (e.g. vehicle activated and variable message signs)

  8. Speed management in Australia (2) • Strong reliance on traffic law enforcement programs: • traffic laws (eg. speed limits) • traffic policing (eg. speed cameras) • sanctions (eg. fines, demerit points, licence loss)

  9. Speeding enforcement in Queensland • History: • 1997: Mobile speed cameras (highly visible, randomly deployed around selected ‘crash’ sites) • 2003: Penalties for speeding substantially increased • 2007: Fixed ‘blackspot’ speed cameras and increase in mobile speed camera sites • 2010: Covert speed cameras introduced • 2011: Point-to-point (average) speed cameras operational on 1 section of highway north of Brisbane • Policing supported by mass-media education • Evaluations of mobile speed cameras indicate: • 34% reduction in fatal crashes within 2km of sites • 42% reduction in serious casualty crashes within 2km Newstead, 2006; Cameron, 2008; Carnis, Rakotonirainy & Fleiter, 2008

  10. Focus of Traffic Policing • The Fatal 4 • Speeding • Drink driving • Fatigue – driving while tired • Non-use of Seatbelts

  11. Percentage of fatalities involving speeding drivers/riders in Queensland: 12 months ending January 2006 -2011 % Year Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, 2011 CRICOS No. 00213J

  12. Percentage of speeding infringements per penalty category, Queensland % of infringements Km/hour above the speed limit Queensland Transport, 2008

  13. Speeding offenders... • Are they all the same? • Does increasing penalties make any difference? • What else do they do? • How do they perceive current penalties? • What might best change their driving behaviour?

  14. Background to recidivism research project • In April 2003, Queensland introduced changes to the speeding penalty regime: • Increased monetary fines • Automatic licence suspension for high range speeding (for >40 km/h over the speed limit) • Increased the number of offence bands/categories • The stated rationale for this change was to deter speeding behaviour

  15. Speeding penalty changes Speeding offences and penalties in Qld prior to 17 April, 2003 Speeding offences and penalties in Qld from 17 April, 2003

  16. The effectiveness of increases in speeding penalties • Limited international research into effectiveness of different speeding penalties • Increasing speeding penalties severity (in isolation) has been found to produce very few impacts on behaviour in Sweden (1982 & 1987) and Norway (1995-2004) • Need to consider impact of speeding penalties in: • deterring the general population from speeding (general deterrence) • reducing recidivism among offenders (specific deterrence) Watson et al. 2010

  17. Speeding recidivism research • Our research aimed to: • examine the specific deterrent impact of the changes • profile speeding offenders/recidivists

  18. Method (1) • Crash and offence data from 1996 to 2007 obtained for two cohorts of drivers: • 58,000 drivers convicted of speeding in May 2001 • 53,000 drivers convicted of speeding in May 2003 • Data obtained included details of: • index offence • previous and subsequent traffic crashes and offences • demographic characteristics • licence type and class

  19. Method (2) • Final sample for current analyses excluded interstate and international licence holders: • 2001 pre-penalty change cohort (n = 46,681) • 2003 post-penalty change cohort (n = 42,180) • Speeding offence records for two years after the index offence were examined • Distinction between: • Absolute specific deterrence – the total prevention of re-offending • Marginal specific deterrence – a reduction in re-offending

  20. Measures of recidivism In the follow up period: 1. Proportion of all offenders detected re-offending (Absolute specific deterrence) 2. Average number of offences (Absolute and marginal specific deterrence) 3. Length of delay to re-offence among re-offenders (Marginal specific deterrence) 4. Average number of re-offences among re-offenders (Marginal specific deterrence) CRICOS No. 00213J

  21. Overall impact of penalty change Watson et al. 2010

  22. Potential influencing factors – differential effects • Index offence severity • Offence history

  23. 1. Index Offence Severity • Low-range offences: those from the lowest offence category • High-range offences: those that were 30km/hr or greater over the speed limit • Mid-range offences: all other offences

  24. Effects of index offence severity • Compared to those with mid- and low-range offences, those with high-range index offence had a significantly: • greater proportion re-offending; • higher average number of offences; and • higher average number of re-offences. • No differential effects of penalty change

  25. 2. Offence History • Low-range offenders: no speeding offences prior to index • High-range offenders: 2 or more speeding offences prior to index, where at least two were 30 km/hr or greater over the speed limit • Mid-range offenders: all other offenders

  26. Effects of offence history • Compared to mid- and low-range offenders, high-range offenders had a significantly: • greater proportion re-offending; • higher average number of offences; • fewer days until re-offence; and • higher average number of re-offences. • No differential effects of penalty change

  27. Potential Confounding Factors • Intensity of speed enforcement • Speed enforcement hours 2. Community perceptions • Annual community attitudes surveys 3. Driving exposure • Fuel sales

  28. 1. Intensity of speed enforcement * Includes all speed camera and radar based speed enforcement

  29. 2. Community perceptions • The trend in self-reported exposure (self and others) to speed cameras was stable from 1998 to 2005. • Reported awareness of penalty change: • 69% in 2003 • 39% in 2004 • However, knowledge of the penalty change varied in terms of accuracy.

  30. 3. Driving exposure *All fuel types sold by fuel retail outlets in Queensland There was an increase in fuel sales from 2001-03 to 2003-05 period. As such, the results obtained in the study would not appear to be due to any reduction in driving exposure.

  31. Speeding offenders... • Are they all the same? • Does increasing penalties make any difference? • What else do they do? • How do they perceive current penalties? • What might best change their driving behaviour?

  32. Speeding recidivists

  33. Speeding recidivist profiling (1) • Examined demographic characteristics, traffic offence histories and criminal histories of speeding offenders • Compared characteristics and offence histories of low and mid-range offenders with high-range, repeat speeding offenders

  34. Speeding recidivist profiling (2) • Utilised the data from the speeding penalty change study for the combined 2001 and 2003 cohorts (because no differences on key variables of interest) • Examined five years of traffic offence history, prior to the index speeding offence • Examined lifetime criminal history Watson et al. 2009

  35. Speeding recidivist profiling(3) • Three classifications of offenders were determined ‘a priori’ • Low-range: one offence less than 15km/hr over speed limit during study timeframe • Mid-range: at least one offence more than 15km/hr over the speed limit • High-range: two or more offences, with at least two being 30 km/hr or more over the speed limit (i.e. high range, repeat offenders)

  36. Previous profiling results (1) • Significant differences between high-rangeoffenders compared to low- and mid-range offenders • Demographics - High-range offenders more likely: • Male • Younger • Hold Provisional licence • Hold Motorcycle licence

  37. Previous profiling results (2) Traffic History • High-range offenders more likely than low- and mid-range offenders to have committed: • Alcohol • Unlicensed driving • Dangerous driving • Seatbelt, and • ‘Other’ traffic offences in the 5 years prior to index offence

  38. Additional results

  39. Crash history Low-range vs. high-range: 2 (1)= 358.6, p < .001, c= .21 Mid-range vs. high-range: 2 (1)= 286.2, p < .001, c= .06

  40. Compared to low- and mid-range offenders... • High-range offenders involved in significantly greater proportion of single-vehicle crashes • A significantly greater proportion of high-range offenders had ‘speed’ allocated as a contributing circumstance in crash • But for multi-vehicle crashes, no significant differences between offender types for most-at-fault in a crash.

  41. Speeding offenders... • Are they all the same? • Does increasing penalties make any difference? • What else do they do? • How do they perceive current penalties? • What might best change their driving behaviour?

  42. Criminal histories • 1000 offenders selected • 300 random sample of low-range • 300 random sample of mid-range • 400 random sample of high-range • Data provided by Queensland Police Service • Overall, 30.5% had at least one criminal offence • 15.9% property (eg. stealing, break and enter) • 14.9% drug offences • 10.2% offences against order (eg. public nuisance) • 7.3% offences against the person (eg. assault) • 7.2% traffic offences (ie. those requiring attendance at court) • 4.6% regulation offences (eg. prostitution, liquor licensing)

  43. Comparison of criminal histories Standardised residuals +/- 1.96 bolded *% of those with criminal history

  44. Conclusions for recidivism research • The introduction of more severe speeding penalties in Queensland appears to have had a absolute specific deterrent effect and reduced re-offending in the following two years • However, the change appears to have had little impact on the overall frequency of re-offending among those who did re-offend • Further research into the effectiveness of speeding penalties and sanctions needed

  45. Conclusions for recidivism research • High-range, repeat speeding offenders appear to be a problematic group of drivers • The are substantially different from low- and mid-range offenders on many demographic, traffic and criminal history factors • Need to consider innovative, tailored strategies for reducing recidivism among high-range, repeat offenders

  46. Speeding offenders... • Are they all the same? • Does increasing penalties make any difference? • What else do they do? • How do they perceive current penalties? • What motivates non-compliance? • Why don’t penalties make a difference to some offenders? • What might best change their driving behaviour?

  47. Understanding driver perceptions • Key part of speed management • Important to understand • Can provide insight into behaviour • Can provide direction for future countermeasures