Article Text

Download PDFPDF
PA 02-6-1888 The patterns of offences and demerit point accumulation in new zealand 2005–2004
  1. Soufiane Boufous,
  2. Ann Williamson,
  3. Julie Hatfield,
  4. Teresa Senserrick,
  5. Lori Mooren
  1. University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia


The demerit points system has been implemented in many countries. The overall effect of the system on road safety, including subsequent traffic offences remains controversial.

Data on traffic offenses for all New Zealand (NZ) license-holders over the 10 year period from 2005 to 2014 were analysed. Descriptive statistical analyses were undertaken to examine overall patterns of offenses and demerit points. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was carried out to examine the impact of various factors on the likelihood of incurring multiple offenses.

The analysis of the 5.5 million traffic offences recorded in NZ show that 57% incurred at least two offences during the study period. While speeding and Licensing/registration offenses were the most common types, those committing Alcohol offences were three times more likely to have multiple than single offenses. Multiple offenders were also more likely to be male, aged less than 25 years old and born in NZ. There was clear evidence that the 100-point threshold decreases offenses for most drivers, with most repeat offenders limiting their points to 70–75 points. Once this threshold is reached the likelihood of committing a subsequent offense is reduced to virtually zero.

Multivariate analysis shows that factors likely to increase the odds of being a multiple offender include: age, gender, country of birth, Demerit points at first offence, offence type and level of fines at first offence. The analysis clearly showed that deterrence effects were only achieved when penalties include at least 20 points in combination with a sufficiently large fine.

The results have implications for road safety policy in New Zealand and elsewhere. It indicates the need to review the level of penalties, particularly for alcohol related offences and among certain groups, including young drivers.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.