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Hit a worker, get a $10,000 fine

Hit a worker, get a $10,000 dollar fine

  1. Hit a worker, get a $10,000 dollar fine.
  2. Getting caught tailgating or speeding in a work zone, get a $250 fine.

Quick, which of the above laws will cause people to drive more safely in a work zone? If you said "neither", you're probably right: most people drive like shit unless they're actually physically looking at a cop, and sometimes not even then. Most cops I've seen drive like shit too (speeding and tailgating). But still, I think #2 has a much better chance of working.

Why would this be? $10,000 is much greater the $250: it should deter people 4000% more!

Because the people speeding, tailgating, and changing lanes in a work zone already think they're not going to have an accident. No one has ever thought, "If I crash my car into a human being, I'll have to fix my car and risk personal injury and death, and that other person would probably get hurt severely and could die, but at least I won't have to pay a $10,000 fine." The consequences of hitting a worker with a motor vehicle are already severe enough to deter those who capable of being deterred.

To me, personally, the risks of "aggressive driving" (AKA "being an asshole") are deterrent enough. Apparently I'm in the minority in this. If someone actually rationally thought it out as "If I drive faster and closer, I'll have less time to react if something unexpected occurs, thus dramatically increasing my risk of damage, injury, and death" they'd slow the hell right down. Those entitled asshats who ignore the risks of speeding or aggressive driving in a work zone (or anywhere else) are not even contemplating the possibility they could cause an accident. No, they're more likely thinking something like "If I tailgate and then pass this guy and drive really quickly, I'll be home 5 minutes earlier." They might think "I hope no cops see me," but that's about the extent of it.

In the speeder's mind, their actions will never cause them to hit a worker, so the $10,000 fine is not something to worry about. But a speeding/tailgating ticket seems much more worrisome: after all, the speeder is speeding, and all it'd take is for a police car to pop up to get caught. If enforced, aggressive driving tickets could reasonably work as a deterrent to unsafe driving in work zones.

In my opinion, leveling fines on something people want to do and are doing might deter those actions, but putting fines on unintentional outcomes that no one wants will not.

2013-09-01

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