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Are traffic violators criminals? Searching for answers in the experiences of European countries

José I. Castillo-Manzano, Mercedes Castro-Nuño and Xavier Fageda

Transport Policy, 2015, vol. 38, issue C, 86-94

Abstract: The connection between crime and road safety is a relatively recent topic in academic research, although most studies have focused on the link between criminal behavior and traffic offenses, and only a few authors discuss the possible relationship with traffic accident fatalities. Evidence worldwide shows that people who commit other offenses characteristic of antisocial attitudes are more likely to have road traffic accidents and infringe traffic laws. We examine the records of the 28 current member states of the European Union over the 1999–2010 period. Our aim is to test the hypothesis that crime rates (and specifically, motor vehicle-related crimes) can be considered as predictors of fatal road traffic accidents. If they can be, this could be prima facie justification, at least, of the trend in several countries to consider traffic offenses as crimes in their penal codes and to toughen the punishment imposed on those who commit them. The effect of the severity of the legal system applied to traffic offenses is also analyzed. From a geographical point of view, our results reveal that road traffic fatality rates are higher in countries where the behavior of the inhabitants is more aggressive, while the rates are lower in countries with more severe penal systems.

Keywords: Road fatalities; Motor vehicle crime; Law enforcement; National legal system; Panel data; European Union' (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C33 I18 K42 R41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1016/j.tranpol.2014.12.003

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