Does police enforcement make drivers ease off the gas pedal?

According to Société d'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) statistics, 428 road users were killed and more than 35,000 were injured during the first ten months of 2009.

While road safety in Quebec has improved over the past 30 years (1,765 deaths were recorded in 1978), these statistics are still disturbing, because most injuries are caused by dangerous driver behaviour that could be avoided.

Police programs attacking the main causes of traffic accidents are aimed at one thing: prevention.

Police programs attacking the main causes of traffic accidents, such as impaired driving and excessive speeding, are aimed at one thing: prevention. However, very little information is available as to the effectiveness of these programs, as they are rarely evaluated. Many people believe that police operations are ineffective, and that fines for driving offences are nothing but a hidden tax.

Université de Montréal Criminology research professor Étienne Blais feels that evaluating police programs would be a means of demystifying certain popular beliefs. His current research project aims at identifying the conditions under which such programs prove to be most effective, and to study their impact on driving behaviour and collision rates. 

The Sûreté du Québec, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal and the Institut national de santé publique du Québec have agreed to collaborate with this research project.

The results could lead to improvements in police operations and, eventually, to better road safety throughout the province.