More than ninety percent of the people in this country over the age of sixteen are licensed to drive, and there is more than one car registered for each one of them. These figures translate into trillions of miles driven each year with millions of traffic infractions, making traffic control an issue of immense proportions. The first traffic laws and regulations began to appear in the 1920s, and they now constitute a huge part of most state codes.
The primary purpose of traffic-violation regulations is to deter unsafe driving and to educate and reform bad drivers. Studies have shown that traffic offenders generally keep amassing traffic violations, and that most people obey the laws, even when there is no perceived safety reason for doing so, such as waiting for a green light at 2:00 a.m. Compliance with the laws increases when drivers believe they will be caught and decreases when they perceive they can get away with a specific infraction.*
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