Warnings VS. Citations — Who Wins this Battle?

A few years back I started a major discussion over issuing warnings vs slamming every violation with a citation, no matter what.  Here’s what I though cities should do.

Issue a warning for minor infractions (over stay a meter, nose a foot across a driveway, park in a delivery zone, etc) for the first infraction. After that, issue a citation. For major infractions (fire hydrant, parking in red, blocking driveway, any safety issue) slam em.

I didn’t understand why this was such a big deal but a reader in New Zealand unloaded on me, telling me that you can’t change behavior with a carrot, you needed to wield a big stick. Many enforcement folks agreed. They thought I was naive and that all it would lead to was more infractions and chaos.

Well the Kiwis have come through and at least in one city, proven me correct.  Read all about it here.  In the city of Dunedin the enforcement staff is writing about 15% fewer tickets but its not because they are writing so many warnings, its because after receiving a warning, people have a tendency to follow the rules.

Council development services manager Kevin Thompson said he was “more than comfortable” with the outcome, despite the financial result. “Our aim is to get compliance, by warning someone first, rather than just issuing a ticket. “The revenue has dropped … but, as I’ve always said, it’s not how much money we’re making.”

The change had been “very favorably” received, as most motorists were happy to comply and avoid a ticket, he said. “If they’re asked to move, we would say 95 per cent, if not more, moved.”

He denied the new approach encouraged motorists to push the limits, saying that was not supported by public feedback. The lenient approach applied to motorists committing minor infringements, such as parking on a bus stop or an authorised vehicle park.

Plus, think of the PR.  People talk about getting warnings just as they talk about getting tickets.  The word spreads quickly. I love the line

Our aim is to get compliance, by warning someone first, rather than just issuing a ticket.

And you know, in this case, I think he means it.

JVH

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