Sunday, March 27, 2005

Force Them to Pay: Annals of "people respond to incentives" - Arab News (Ozak)

The colonel and all other traffic officials should realize that what would really reduce the accident rate would be measures that force motorists to cease their reckless driving and force them to respect the law. Drivers continue to violate the law because, when issued with tickets, they never pay the fines unless forced to. And then it is done only when they want to have paperwork done in a government office. Some wait years before paying the fine. Why should they rush to pay the fine as long as they can do it at their convenience and at a time of their own choosing? (emp. added)


In every other country in the world, a deadline is set for the payment of traffic fines. Motorists know very well that failure to pay on time is a further violation and that it, as well as the traffic violation, is punishable by law. Had we introduced a system that obliged drivers to pay their fines on time or face punishment, motorists who regularly run red lights, who speed and endanger others' lives would think twice before breaking the law.

Indeed. It's interesting that compared to U.S. students, students here are quicker to challenge textbook assumptions that laws are costly enforced.

The interesting political economy question is how did the present system of delay without penalty come to be, and why has it been allowed to continue? Is it incompetence?; why? Lack of will to enforce?; why? A way of keeping the voters happy? Compulsary if those left to enforce the law have to cowtow to the speeders who happen to be important people?

I should add: As a practical matter, enforcement of laws relies on the consent of the governed. If no one is paying fines where do you start?


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