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Points or Prison? The Effects of Different Sanctions on Driving Behavior


  • Silvia Bruzzone

    () (Istituto Nazionale di Statistica, Direzione centrale per le statistiche sociali e il censimento della popolazione)

  • Stefano Castriota

    () (Department of Political Sciences, University of Pisa)

  • Mirco Tonin

    () (Free University of Bolzano‐Bozen, Faculty of Economics and Management)


This paper compares the effects of two reforms implemented in Italy in 2003 and 2016 – respectively the Penalty Points System (PPS) and the Road Homicide (RH) – aimed at reducing road accidents and mortality. In terms of the two main parameters characterizing enforcement – probability and intensity of the penalty – the two policies are opposite. In fact, with the PPS it is very easy to lose points but the maximum penalty – that is, temporary withdrawal of the license – is not dramatic. The RH, instead, introduced heavy penalties in the rare event of dead and injured people. We find a stronger decrease of dead and injured people with the PPS than with the RH. We compare the costs and benefits of the two policies and conclude that, in this context, strong penalties like incarceration are not socially beneficial.

Suggested Citation

  • Silvia Bruzzone & Stefano Castriota & Mirco Tonin, 2019. "Points or Prison? The Effects of Different Sanctions on Driving Behavior," BEMPS - Bozen Economics & Management Paper Series BEMPS66, Faculty of Economics and Management at the Free University of Bozen.
  • Handle: RePEc:bzn:wpaper:bemps66

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    Road accidents; penalty points system; road homicide; crime; punishment;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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