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posted by martyb on Tuesday March 17 2015, @11:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the cheaper-to-pay-someone-else-to-drive dept.

Joe Pinsker writes at The Atlantic that Finnish businessman Reima Kuisla was recently caught going 65 miles per hour in a 50 zone in his home country and ended up paying a fine of $56,000. The fine was so extreme because in Finland, some traffic fines, as well as fines for shoplifting and violating securities-exchange laws, are assessed based on earnings—and Kuisla's declared income was €6.5 million per year. Several years ago another executive was fined the equivalent of $103,000 for going 45 in a 30 zone on his motorcycle.

Finland’s system for calculating fines is relatively simple: It starts with an estimate of the amount of spending money a Finn has for one day, and then divides that by two—the resulting number is considered a reasonable amount of spending money to deprive the offender of. Then, based on the severity of the crime, the system has rules for how many days the offender must go without that money. Going about 15 mph over the speed limit gets you a multiplier of 12 days, and going 25 mph over carries a 22-day multiplier. Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland also have some sliding-scale fines, or “day-fines,” in place.

[More after the break.]

Should such a system be used in the United States? After all, wealthier people have been shown to drive more recklessly than those who make less money. For example Steve Jobs was known to park in handicapped spots and drive around without license plates. But more importantly, day-fines could introduce some fairness to a legal system that many have convincingly shown to be biased against the poor. Last week, the Department of Justice released a comprehensive report on how fines have been doled out in Ferguson, Missouri. "Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs," it concluded.

The first day-fine ever in the U.S. was given in 1988, and about 70 percent of Staten Island’s fines in the following year were day-fines. A similar program was started in Milwaukee, and a few other cities implemented the day-fine idea. Nevertheless, in America, flat-rate fines are the norm and day-fines remain unusual and even exotic.

According to Judith Greene, who founded Justice Strategies, a non-profit research organization, all of these initiatives were effective in making the justice system fairer for poor people. “When considering a proportion of their income, people are at least constantly risk-averse. This means that the worst that would happen is that the deterrent effect of fines would be the same across wealth or income levels,” says Casey Mulligan. "We should start small—say, only speeding tickets—and see what happens."

 
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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @05:52PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17 2015, @05:52PM (#158987)

    Reckless driving can potentially kill anyone?

    I have been driving for the last 40 years, big cities and small, different states across the US. I have seen very little evidence of actual "Reckless" driving. Speeding yes. There where a few times someone flew by me doing twice the speed limit, but not most of the time. I agree that reckless driving should be punished, but speeding does not equal reckless.

    if you are standing in the road, and I hit you at 35mph, would it make a difference if I hit you going 36mph. Not for the most part, how about 40mph or 50mph? Chances are if I hit you with a 2000lb car at 35mph you will be dead. I would rather have people on the road speeding than constantly looking at their dashboards to make sure the are right on the speed limit and not going over, especially in a school zone.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18 2015, @02:24AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 18 2015, @02:24AM (#159171)

    I have been driving for the last 40 years,

    So, about time for that "special" driver's test? You know, ability to judge speed is one of the first things to go.

    if you are standing in the road, and I hit you at 35mph, would it make a difference if I hit you going 36mph. Not for the most part, how about 40mph or 50mph? Chances are if I hit you with a 2000lb car at 35mph you will be dead.

    Why would I be standing in the road? And more to the point, why would you hit me? And now for the biggie: the force of impact has, as you have correctly stated, almost nothing to do with the harm. (Maybe something to do with condition of organs for transplant?) But here is the point: braking distance and reaction times reduce with the inverse square of the velocity of the vehicle. You probably didn't mean to hit me at 35 mph, but you did because you didn't see me in time, and were sliding with all tires locked (Isn't ABS nice?) trying to stop from 50 mph. So you are wrong, speeding does equal recklessness. That is why we call it "speeding" and not "appropriate vehicular velocity".

  • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Wednesday March 18 2015, @04:18AM

    by Reziac (2489) on Wednesday March 18 2015, @04:18AM (#159196) Homepage

    I've been driving for the past 41 years myself, 28 years of that in Los Angeles and the rest all across the western U.S. And I agree -- reckless driving is extremely rare in the U.S.

    Then I watch Russian dashcam videos, and wonder how any Russians survive long enough to reproduce. I've *never* seen that kind of just plain *oblivious* driving here, not even in the bowels of Los Angeles on a holiday night.