Study Confirms Fine Doubling Does Not Work

October 1998

Confirming what the NMA has been saying for years about traffic fines and their limited effect on safety, a report by the Texas Transportation Institute (at Texas A&M University) concluded that increasing fines in work zones had no consistently measurable affect upon fatal work zone accidents. This report exposes “fine doubling” in work zones, school zones and other special speed zoning areas as nothing more than a scam on motorists.

The report does state that motorist noncompliance with speed limits in work zones is an ongoing problem, but noted that “motorist compliance with a reduced speed limit is related directly to the relative magnitude of the speed limit (that is, it must not be overly restrictive.)”

The most common type of work zone legislation enacted nationally has been that which increases the level of fines for violations that occur in work zones. Forty-two states have implemented this type of legislation. Two-thirds of those states have applied the law to all types of work zones (construction, maintenance or utility), while one-third limit the law to road construction only. Half of those states require that workers be present for the higher fines to take effect.

Among the key findings, however, was the discovery that these higher fines had no impact on accident frequency. Some states saw increases, while other saw decreases. And, accident frequency in states with higher fines did not vary from states with no such laws.

This study provides NMA with a valuable tool in our efforts to demand cessation and repeal of existing fine-doubling laws and policies, while providing a legitimate argument against the practice, in those areas where it is being considered.