That traffic ticket you just received could be preventing a fatal traffic accident -- at least in the short run, say researchers who studied the impact of traffic convictions on the likelihood of being involved in a motor vehicle crash.
Results show drivers run a significantly lower risk of getting in a fatal crash in the month after a traffic conviction when compared to other months when no conviction took place.
About 1 million people die in traffic accidents every year, and about 25 million suffer permanent disabilities. Preventing accidents is of paramount concern among public health officials, but many people believe traffic tickets don't do much to help the situation. Indeed, police are regularly criticized for giving out tickets simply to generate revenue, and police themselves often view traffic duty as beneath their skills.
A study evaluated fatal crashes over an 11-year period in , Canada, linking the crashes to traffic convictions during the same time period. Nearly 9,000 drivers were involved in such crashes, and more than 21,000 traffic convictions were issued to all drivers during the study. The risk of a driver being involved in a fatal crash was about a third lower in the month after getting ticketed than in other months when no ticket was issued.
According to researchers, "Traffic law enforcement effectively reduces the frequency of fatal motor vehicle crashes in countries with high rates of motor vehicle use. Inconsistent enforcement, therefore, may contribute to thousands of deaths each year worldwide."
As road deaths rise up the global burden of disease, interventions for prevention are also rising up the international health policy agenda, hence more studies such as this one are needed to assess the effectiveness of interventions aimed at curtailing traffic accidents.