Demerit point systems

Goldenbeld, Ch.

With a demerit point system, demerit points are meted out to traffic offenders in addition to the normal penalty. Generally, more demerit points are meted out when the offence is more serious. If a defined points’ limit is exceeded, suspension of the licence follows. In most cases the traffic offender needs to prove that he is capable of driving safely by following a driving course or by some other measure. A 2012 worldwide meta-analysis indicated that demerit point systems have a positive effect in reducing the number of traffic violations as well as the number of accidents, fatalities and injuries. However, the effects appeared to wear off in less than 18 months. This is probably due to low or decreasing levels of enforcement resulting in a small chance that traffic offences are detected. It can be expected that point systems achieve longer lasting safety effects when enforcement levels are sufficiently high and sustained over time. In addition, a demerit point system can be expected to be more effective when the system includes a broad scope of major dangerous traffic violations (speed, alcohol, red light, use of seat belts/helmet/child restraints, dangerous overtaking, priority rules, headway distance), when intermediate measures (such as warning letters and educational measures) are targeted at specific groups of offenders, and when the point system, including its communication and administration, is simple, transparent and fair.

Published in
European Road Safety Decision Support System, developed by the H2020 project SafetyCube
European Commission, Brussels

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