Harsh and Unusual Road Safety Punishments Around the World

June 22, 2017


Road Safety


Richard Greenwood

Every year we hear of police crackdowns on speeding and initiatives in other States such as double demerits over public holidays. A hefty speeding fine and some points on your licence may seem like a strong deterrent but they are pretty mild compared to some of the alternatives being dished out overseas.

Paying the price for drink driving

A number of countries and US States have strict penalties including minimum jail sentences for driving under the influence, even for first time offenders. Arizona for example has a minimum ten day sentence. Introducing these harsh penalties seems to have had the desired effect. Alcohol related deaths on the road dropped by 51.9% between 2005-2014, far more than the national US average. In Asia, Taiwan still has the option of the death sentence if driving under the influence caused serious injury or death.

An unusual approach to a jail sentence was handed down this year in Dallas, Texas recently. The driver was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years probation. However, to send a powerful message and to honour the 34 year old victim, Emily Javadi, the driver was sentenced to serve 120 now and then a week in jail for the next nine years on the anniversary of Emily’s death.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">He killed their daughter while driving drunk. Now he&#39;ll spend the anniversary of her death for the next 9 years in jail. <a href="https://twitter.com/wfaachannel8?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wfaachannel8</a> at 10 <a href="https://t.co/MhyT40DFPk">pic.twitter.com/MhyT40DFPk</a></p>&mdash; Marie Saavedra (@MSaavedraTV) <a href="https://twitter.com/MSaavedraTV/status/834604452439015424?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 23, 2017</a></blockquote>

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A more unusual approach has been trialed in Thailand which has the second worst rate of road fatalities in the world. To give drink drivers and repeat traffic offenders a wake-up call, they are sending offenders to work in morgues among dead bodies.

Police in Canada have also upped deterrent by warning drivers that they’ll be forced to listen to Nickelback's third album ‘Silver Side Up’ on the way to prison if they get caught under the influence!

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Bet they never DUI again.<br><br>Cruel Police Force To Make Drunk Drivers Listen To Nickelback <a href="https://t.co/rrDlJbYYzP">https://t.co/rrDlJbYYzP</a> <a href="https://t.co/XTJwKbBMfC">pic.twitter.com/XTJwKbBMfC</a></p>&mdash; AskMen (@AskMen) <a href="https://twitter.com/AskMen/status/804693365442965505?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 2, 2016</a></blockquote>

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A taste of their own medicine for dazzling other drivers

Police in the Chinese city of Shenzhen are giving drivers who fail to dip their full beams a taste of their own medicine by forcing them to stare into the full beam headlights of a police van for a minute.

Eyes on the road - distracted driving punishments

Accidents caused by distractions such as mobile phones are getting increasing attention in the media and authorities including Queensland have responded with stricter sentences.

Over in Oman, you could find yourself on the inside of a jail cell for ten days if caught using a phone behind the wheel.

In a rush - speeding

If your are earning a motza then you may want to think twice before speeding in Switzerland. Back in 2010, Swiss authorities set a world record by issuing a 650,000 Euro fine ($957,000 AUD approx) after clocking a Mercedes SLS doing 290 KPH! Also in Europe, Finland has doled out a number of six figure fines due to fines being calculated by annual income and net worth.

In 2016 an Ohio judge took a creative approach to sentencing a woman who had no time to give way to a school bus. The judge opted for public shaming by ordering the offender, Shena Hardin to hold up a sign during rush-hour saying ‘Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus’.

Would these punishments change your behaviour? Got your own ideas for punishments?

Richard Greenwood

Marketing Manager at Smith's Lawyers. Advocate for road safety and fan of technology that makes the roads or workplaces safer.


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