Legislation and enforcement
Good traffic law enforcement is essential for road safety. The main objective of traffic policing is safe and efficient flow of traffic, achieved through means of persuasion, prevention, and punishment. Safe behaviour in traffic does not come naturally for most people, but with the right laws in place, behaviour can be changed by traffic law enforcement.
Typical offences relate to speeding, drinking and driving, non-use of seatbelt or child restraints and not wearing a helmet. All of these relate to well-known risk factors, where research has shown that limiting non-compliance will reduce the frequency and severity of road crashes.
Targeted and appropriate legislation that is consistently enforced and well understood by the public is a critical component of successful enforcement. The good practice manuals on helmets and drinking and driving provide good advice on developing laws and give examples. Legislation should be part of an overall enforcement strategy - and good examples are specified in Urban Safety Management: Guidelines for Developing Countries and Police enforcement strategies to reduce traffic casualties in Europe and a strategy for implementation (ETSC).
An appropriate penalty system also needs to be in place. The good practice manual on speed management gives examples of the different methods which can be used, like warning notices and fixed penalties. Fixed penalties can be issued with a written infringement or violation handed out on-the-spot, requiring the offending driver or rider to pay a fine by a specified date. Confiscation of licences or of vehicles can be applied for serious offences. Demerit or black-point systems seek to deter drivers from continuing to re-offend for a range of traffic law related offences. To operate a penalty system effectively, a computerized database is generally needed to record all offences and driver records.
Enforcement of Speed Limits
Enforcement of restrictions on Drinking and Driving
Enforcement of seatbelt use
Enforcement of helmet wearing
Planning and designing of enforcement campaigns should be based on analysis of crash data - targeted at locations with high crash numbers or focused on unsafe driver behaviour like seatbelts/alcohol impairment. To be able to implement effective campaigns, police forces often need some training in planning effective strategies and to learn how to use modern enforcement equipment such as alcohol testing devices and radar speed meters. Traffic police must be trained in both the technical tasks of policing and in how to set an example for the general public. Traffic policing typical account for 8-10 percent of the total police budget in highly motorised countries, but many low income jurisdictions are struggling with very low budgets. The sector is hampered by generally low salaries and the duties of traffic officers, dealing with fatal and serious road accidents, do not attract many. The ADB road safety guidelines provide more assistance, tools and examples on this aspect.
The Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) has recently piloted a programme on professional development of the traffic police in strategic law enforcement and road safety. The aim of the programme is to strengthen the capacity of traffic law enforcement professionals. The overall programme content covers an understanding of the road safety risk factors, how to collect and analyse data to feed into the creation of a policing strategy giving the framework for the traffic police´s operational practice.
GRSP has also published a focus note "Community participation in traffic law enforcement" base on a TRL scoping study, showing how communities can help the police enforce the law through collaboration by changing the general attitude to the risk factors by volunteering, advocating, consultation and making demands for safer roads.