What do we mean by repeat offenders or ‘traffic hooligans’?


In the most well-known Dutch dictionary ‘de Dikke van Dale’ [20] a traffic hooligan is described as: “someone who behaves like a jerk towards other road users (for example by tailgating and cutting others off) and therefore constitutes a road hazard.” The police define a traffic hooligan as: “someone who disregards other road users, and who fails to comply with traffic regulations and does so consistently.” [21].

Traffic hooligan or road rager are words that are used in the streets, in policy communities and politics, and words that specifically hint at moral disapproval of those who display this kind of road user behaviour. SWOV prefers using the concept of ‘repeat offender’ which is a more neutral concept that focuses on the number of offences and does not pass judgement on the road user’s underlying intention or mindset [22]. The ‘repeat offender scheme’ defines repeat offenders as road users who commit at least three serious traffic offences - so-called traffic hooligan acts – within two years [23] [24]. Examples of ‘traffic hooligan acts’ are not stopping at a stop sign, using a red-cross lane, overtaking near a pedestrian crossing, or turning around or reversing on a motorway. On 1 January 1915, these traffic offences were transferred to criminal justice law to raise the profile of this group of repeat offenders for the judicial authorities (within criminal law, recidivism can be registered) and to be tougher on repeat offenders [25].

In the Netherlands, not much is known about the number of repeat offenders committing serious traffic offences. Nor are figures published about the annual number of road users covered by the ‘repeat offender scheme’ or other such schemes.

For road safety, the commission of multiple minor traffic offences is also relevant. An analysis of fines by licence plate number showed a negative correlation with crashes. Vehicles with nine or more fines a year constituted less than 0.5% of the offender population. Yet, these vehicles were involved in over 6% of registered road crashes [26].

Part of fact sheet

Risky road user behaviour, aggression and repeat offenders

Risky road user behaviour is behaviour that adversely affects road safety, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or… Meer

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