​Willingness to pay a fine

Full report - Willingness to pay a fine (pdf, 442Kb)

Release date: 10.30AM, 14 September, 2016


The higher the fine for a speeding offence, the less willing people are to pay the fine according to new research published today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

BOCSAR also found evidence that being stopped by police is no more effective in getting people to pay a fine than being caught speeding by a camera.

To conduct the study, BOCSAR surveyed 3,158 people, 2,222 had been fined for a parking or traffic offence. Respondents were asked if they had always paid their fine on time and also if they had ever considered not paying the fine at all.

Respondents were then asked to imagine that they are driving along a major road trying to get to an appointment but were booked for speeding and received a fine. Those responding were randomly presented with one of six hypothetical scenarios.

In three of these scenarios the fine varied (being either: $254, $436 or $2,252). In two of the scenarios, the mode of detection varied (speed camera or police stop). Each of the six scenario groups was compared in terms of the respondents’ stated willingness to pay the hypothetical fine within 21 days.

While over 80 per cent receiving the $254 fine scenario said they were likely or almost certain to pay the speeding fine, this was only the case for 69 per cent of the $436 scenario and 31 per cent of the $2,252 scenario. There was no significant effect of the mode of detection being speed camera or police.

The study also found that respondents who were not in paid employment were less willing to pay the $2,252 fine than respondents who were in paid employment (63% certainly would not or would be unlikely to pay vs. 53%).

Respondents who had previously considered not paying their fine were more likely to be male, younger, having known a non-payer of a fine who got away with it, had more prior speeding offences and had been fined more recently.

Among those who knew someone who had not paid a fine, for example, 56 per cent had considered not paying a fine themselves. This compared with only 38 per cent of those who did not know someone who had not paid a fine. 

The BOCSAR report recommended an economic analysis be conducted to determine the point where the marginal costs associated with high fines exceed the marginal benefits. 

Further enquiries: Dr DonWeatherburn 02 8346 1100

Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au