Estonian speedingThey’ve found a new way to punish speeding motorists in Estonia. You’re going to love this idea.

Let’s say you’re late for an appointment and you’re driving fast, and you get pulled over. In Australia the cops involved will take their own sweet time to give you a ticket making you even later, plus you’ve got a fine to pay. Or, if you’re nabbed by a camera, you’ll get a fine in the mail. Lots of people call it a road user tax. Depending on what you earn and how you’re placed, that fine may be lunch money or it may mean re-jigging the entire month’s budget.

In the idea being trialled in Estonia you’ll be pulled over and, if the fine doesn’t suit you’ll be offered a different option; Park by the side of the road, right there where you were pulled over, and wait. Anything from 45 minutes to an hour depending on how fast you were going. Then drive on fine-free.

Okay, you’ll be so late for your appointment that you’ll have to call and re-book for another day, but your finances will remain intact.

Public reaction to the trial has surprised the Estonian authorities. According to The Economist magazine it has been very positive. Estonians like the idea because it is more egalitarian. The severity of a monetary punishment is directly related to income – rich people don’t notice but for poor people it can be a disaster. But punishment in terms of time is regarded as far fairer – everyone has just 24 hours in a day. And the punishment is regarded as a direct result of the crime and not an attempt to raise revenue for the government.

The difficulty with the trial is that it involves the police staying with miscreants and their cars for the duration of the punishment, and so saps manpower. But a technological solution to this may be possible.

Published November 2019.


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