Unticketing: An Upside-Down Approach to Speed Compliance

(2023) Unticketing: An Upside-Down Approach to Speed Compliance. Transportation, Department of


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Although research and practical experience show that penalties and incentives are both powerful motivators of human behavior, past approaches for addressing speeding and other routine traffic violations have almost always been punitive. Intercepting traffic violators is labor-intensive, is risky in terms of officer safety, and can amplify pre-existing tensions between communities and law enforcement agencies, highlighting the need for non-punitive options that can augment traditional enforcement. The summer 2023 Unticketing demonstration project explored opportunities to reward and reinforce safe driving behavior. This was accomplished through a contest that awarded prizes valued at $10 to $35 to compliant drivers. All prizes were donated by businesses that serve the contest area. The prizes were distributed by mail to avoid the need to intercept drivers. Contest activities were publicized in local media and on the Unticketing website, which included a sign-up page where drivers could enter their vehicles in the contest. The project generated a steady stream of positive publicity for the Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, agencies implementing the demonstration project and for the prize donors. The contest produced modest (though not statistically significant) reductions in traffic speeds and appeared to increase positive attitudes toward road safety. A literature review was conducted to identify previous studies and grey literature describing efforts to incentivize good driving behavior, and this information was used to help design the Unticketing contest. This report documents the methods used to implement and monitor the contest. In addition, the report presents the results of before/after monitoring of traffic speeds, along with before/after safety attitudes based on a convenience sample of individuals who reside, work, or recreate in the contest area. A guidebook, included as an appendix to this report, was produced to assist law enforcement agencies and other community leaders with implementing similar projects.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: behavioral countermeasures—human factors—incentive—motivation—non-punitive—public policy—safety—speeding
Subjects: Transportation
Transportation > Research
Transportation > Drivers
Transportation > Law and policies
Transportation > Law and policies > Enforcement
Public Safety
ID Code: 48479
Deposited By: Iowa DOT Research
Deposited On: 08 Apr 2024 13:09
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2024 13:09
URI: https://publications.iowa.gov/id/eprint/48479