Tracking traffic citations through court adjudications to posting to public driver records
McCartt, Anne T.; Solomon, Mark G.
Traffic Injury Prevention
Research has shown that one of the best predictors of a driver's future crash risk is the number of prior moving traffic violations (e.g., speeding). Public driver records are used by government and nongovernment users to assess drivers' future crash risks. However, the adequacy of such records may be compromised by deficient recordkeeping systems and by court-based diversion programs (e.g., probation before judgment, traffic school election) that allow drivers presumed guilty to avoid convictions in court and posting of the violations to their driver records. Using a case study approach in four jurisdictions in three states, citations issued for traffic violations were tracked through court adjudication to placement on driver records. Individual court case records and driver history records were reviewed. The percentages of citations issued that appeared on driver records were 58-87% for moving violations, 30-94% for driving while impaired (DWI), and 67-95% for occupant restraint violations. Diversion programs were a significant factor in two states, where 21% and 35% of moving violation citations resulted in diversions. Almost all court convictions in each jurisdiction were recorded on driver records, but few citations resulting in diversions were recorded. Thus, diversion programs in some jurisdictions substantially reduce the utility of public driver records as reliable indicators of prior traffic violations and future crash risks. Recordkeeping inefficiencies and errors were less important factors in this study.
Completeness of driver records
Lund, Adrian K.; Thum, Denise; Preusser, Carol W.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The department of motor vehicles was surveyed in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to determine the accessibility and completeness of driver history records. The survey found that the publicly accessible driver records often provide an incomplete record of traffic violations and crash experience. Thirteen states reported that they provide no information about prior crashes, and another 11 plus the District of Columbia provide crash information only if the driver was at fault or convicted of a violation associated with the crash. States are more likely to provide information about convictions, but insurers are sometimes provided less information about convictions than other users.
Five states have special programs by which traffic violations may be dismissed but not reported on the driver record if the driver completes a court-approved driving course. In California, for example, these dissmissals are obtained by about 1.2 million drivers annually. Other states reported similar practices under judicial discretion, but there was no record of the frequency of this practice. Such practices limit the utility of driver record information for employers, insurers, researchers, and others.
Driver records and crash prediction
Lund, Adrian K.
Research Note 106
No method currently exists to predict with accuracy the crash involvement of individuals, even when crash records are augmented by other variables such as age and sex. As mentioned earlier, one factor in this low level of predictability is the huge variation in police accident reporting procedures. However, even with better measures of crash experience, the predictive accuracy for individuals would remain low. Some researchers have suggested that even the best predictive variables theoretically could explain no more than 10 to 15 percent of the variation in three-year crash experience because of the large size of the random component in individual crash likelihood. This is not to say that there are not identifiable groups of drivers with elevated crash risk. Problem drivers with very deviant records are several times more likely to crash than other drivers, and barring them from driving will eliminate some crashes. However, these people account for such a small segment of the problem that preventing them from driving can have little direct effect on overall crash totals. Thus, for actions such as license suspension or revocation to be effective in reducing highway crashes, they must serve as effective deterrents to other drivers. Whether they are effective as deterrents has yet to be determined.
Piercing the driver license veil
Hricko, Andrew R.
Federation of Insurance Counsel Quarterly
Prior violation records of 1,447 drivers involved in fatal crashes
Robertson, Leon S.; Baker, Susan P.
Accident Analysis and Prevention
Driving records were examined for 1447 drivers involved in fatal crashes during a two-year period. The fatal crash involvement rate per 100,000 drivers was found to be higher in approximate proportion to the number of convictions for violations in three years prior to the fatal crash. However, the majority of drivers involved in fatal crashes had no convictions for violations in the prior three years. Drivers with extremely deviant driving records, including so-called “habitual offenders,” were only a small proportion of drivers involved in fatal crashes and did not have involvement rates as high as other groups such as drivers under 20 years of age with only a few convictions. It was shown that conviction records and descriptives—age, sex, race—in motor vehicle administration files can be used to identify groups with greater probability of involvement in fatal crashes. It is not possible, however, to identify a small group in the population that accounts for more than a small proportion of all fatal crashes.
On-the-road driving records of licensed race drivers
Williams, Allan F.; O'Neill, Brian
Accident Analysis and Prevention
On-the-road driving records of Sports Car Club of America national competition license holders from three states were compared with the records of other drivers of the same age and sex. In each state the race drivers had a greater number of crashes per driver, and a greater number of speeding violations, other moving violations, and non-moving violations per driver, than the drivers comprising the matched comparison group. The results cast considerable doubt as to the validity of the Master Driver's License concept, which has been given serious consideration by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The results also suggest a need for caution regarding the assumption that advanced driver education crash-avoidance techniques can he translated into reduced crash experience.