Harsher punishments for distracted driving probably won’t make people behave better: psychologist


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The new fines for distracted driving will take a bite out of some people’s wallets, but will they keep people from texting behind the wheel in the first place?

One psychologist says the new crackdowns probably won’t result in better behaviour.

There are a couple problems with the theory that these harsher fines will lead to more responsible driving according to Dr Brian Ferris.

“One, the person doing seldom thinks they are going to get caught, and two, they are making a decision to text or talk to their friend or whatever emotionally. They are not thinking about the consequence at all.”

Ferris says there have been many criminology studies looking at tougher sentences for crimes.

“Many of the people who committed crimes were not deterred by the severity of the punishment at all. Some of them had great knowledge of how the punishment worked.”

Ferris believes there are comparisons between distracted driving and drunk driving.

“The general consensus of the population got to a place where we all agreed that driving behind the wheel [drunk] was immoral and wrong,” he says. “Then people began to do it less.”

He says people need to understand how texting behind the wheel doesn’t only put them at risk, but everyone else too.

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