Does the Points System for Driver's Licenses Work? It Depends on Where You Drive

Does the Points System for Driver's Licenses Work? It Depends on Where You Drive


Is the penalty points system really the effective tool for the prevention of reckless driving that it was intended to be? In Oslo, yes, for sure. In Rome, Madrid and Prague, no - quite the opposite.

This, in a nutshell, is the result of a group work conducted by three students of the second year of EMIT (MSc in Economics and Management of Innovation and Technology), during the course Empirical Methods for Innovation with Alfonso Gambardella. The three students, Alessandro Spina, Matteo Hu and Luca Delpero, conducted the research analyzing data on 31 European countries. The aim of the project is to demonstrate that a system based on sanctions, even in a company, is not very effective if not supported by a sense of responsibility of the people involved towards the community.

"We generally perceive the introduction of the driving license points system as a fundamental contribution to reducing the number of accidents in recent years", explains Alessandro Spina, "But in reality, if you dig a little deeper, you see that it is not exactly so; indeed in some cases the exact opposite occurred ". What the students have done, with rigorous scientific method, has been to analyze data relating to a large number of European countries, distinguishing them in three macro-areas: Northern Europe, Mediterranean Europe, Eastern Europe.

"While the number of accidents has decreased overall in recent years", continues Luca Delpero, "we noticed that following the introduction of the penalty points license there was an increase in the number of claims in the regions of Mediterranean Europe and in those of the East, while in Northern Europe it continued to decline. The earlier decrease in the first two macro-areas is therefore more attributable to other reasons, such as the increased safety of infrastructures and cars, than to the direct effects of the introduction of the license with points ". Investigating the reasons, the students, supported by extensive scientific literature, considered the thesis that introduces the concept of "morality", public, in one case, private in the other, to be a more reliable indicator.

"This is an essentially cultural factor. The Nordic countries are more oriented towards collective well-being in the broad sense, "says Matteo Hu," those from the Mediterranean and the East, on the other hand, for a well-being of a family type, ie limited to a smaller circle of people. It should be noted, however, that in our analysis we have limited ourselves to considerations at the macro-area level, without going into the details of individual countries".

"Another important aspect to reflect on," adds Alfonso Gambardella, "is that the students were able to demonstrate - taking as a reference a series of articles on this topic - that the methodology often used to evaluate the results is not the correct one ".

by Davide Ripamonti
Translated by Richard Greenslade

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