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Exploring perceived legitimacy of traffic law enforcement

Watling, C, Leal, N (Peer reviewed)


ACRS conference 2012

The purpose of traffic law enforcement is to encourage compliant driver behaviour. That is, the threat of an undesirable sanction encourages drivers to comply with traffic laws. However, not all traffic law violations are considered equal. For example, while drink driving is generally seen as socially unacceptable, behaviours such as speeding are arguably less so, and speed enforcement is often portrayed in the popular media as a means of “revenue raising”. The perceived legitimacy of traffic law enforcement has received limited research attention to date. Perceived legitimacy of traffic law enforcement may influence (or be influenced by) attitudes toward illegal driving behaviours, and both of these factors are likely to influence on-road driving behaviour. This study aimed to explore attitudes toward a number of illegal driving behaviours and traffic law enforcement approaches that typically target these behaviours using self-reported data from a large sample of drivers. The results of this research can be used to inform further research in this area, as well as the content of public education and advertising campaigns designed to influence attitudes toward illegal driving behaviours and perceived legitimacy of traffic law enforcement.