The Response to Fines and Probability of Detection in a Series of Experiments
Avner Bar-Ilan, Bruce Sacerdote
NBER Working Paper No. 8638
We use traffic data from a series of experiments in the United States and Israel to examine how illegal behavior is deterred by various penalty schemes and whether deterrence varies with age, income, driving record and criminal record. We find that red light running decreases sharply in response to an increase in the fine or an increase in the probability of being caught. The elasticity of violations with respect to the fine is larger for younger drivers and drivers with older cars. Drivers convicted of violent offenses or property offenses run more red lights on average but have the same elasticity as drivers without a criminal record. Within Israel, members of ethnic minority groups have the smallest elasticity with respect to a fine increase.
Published: Bar-Ilan, Avner and Bruce Sacerdote. "Response to Fines and Probabilities in a Natural Experiment." Journal of Law and Economics 47, 1 (April 2004).