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Traffic Court Appearances Do Not Reduce Risk For Later Crashes | Daytona Beach Personal Injury Lawyer

Traffic Court Appearances Do Not Reduce Risk For Later Crashes

A new study shows drivers who choose to fight a speeding ticket in court are more likely to be involved in subsequent car crashes.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the National Transportation Safety Board studied a group of 29,754 Maryland drivers ticketed for speeding who either went to court or paid fines by mail in May/June 2003 and followed the group for three years.

Drivers appearing in court were categorized by verdicts:

  • not guilty
  • suspension of prosecution/no prosecution
  • case dismissed,
  • probation before judgment and fines,
  • fines and demerit points.

Thirteen thousand drivers decided not to argue. Instead, they just paid a fine by mail. The rest opted for traffic court, where drivers met with judges who determined their penalty.

Nearly a quarter of those who went to court were found not guilty, had their case dismissed, or were not prosecuted for speeding. Another half were placed on probation and paid a fine. And nearly a quarter of those in court received the toughest verdict: a fine plus a demerit point on their driver’s license — which can be serious because too many points and drivers lose their licenses.

Overall, those who went to court were 25 percent more likely to get in a car crash in the three years following their speeding ticket than those who paid a fine by mail, the research team reported in the Annals of Epidemiology.

Eleven out of every 100 people in the traffic court group were later in a crash, compared to eight of every 100 who paid a fine by mail.

“I think this relationship doesn’t mean that traffic court caused a higher crash risk among these drivers,” said Jingyi Li, the lead author of the study, in a news release.

Rather, drivers who chose traffic court had a higher crash risk to begin with, Li said. They were more likely to be younger and have a poor driving history.

The incentive to appear in court, especially among repeat offenders, is that drivers can appeal for leniency. “They can explain to a judge what happened and the judge may lower their fines and put them on probation before judgment,” Li said. “I think that’s why traffic court provides an avenue for some high risk drivers to get away with it.”

While the probation before judgment and suspension or prosecution/no prosecution categories may reduce speeding and crashes, researchers say neither verdict eliminated excess crash risk among drivers who choose court appearances.

Randomized, controlled evaluations of speeding countermeasures are needed to inform traffic safety policies, researchers say.

For more on traffic safety issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach car accident attorney.



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