The impact of the penalty point system on the behaviour of young drivers and passengers in Spain

Maria Eugenia Gras, Sílvia Font-Mayolas, Montserrat Planes, Mark J M Sullman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Traffic accidents are one of the main causes of death amongst young people in the European Union and Spain is no exception. In an attempt to reduce road fatalities, the Spanish government introduced a legislative measure which is based upon the loss of points if caught transgressing the traffic laws. After the introduction of the penalty point system (PPS) the Spanish government reported that the number of accidents and fatalities decreased. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate self-reported changes in the behaviour of young drivers and passengers following the implementation of the PPS in Spain. A cross sectional survey was carried out with 1452 undergraduate university students (52.8% female Mean age = 21.5; S.D.= 2.5). The results show that young Spanish drivers reduced their risky driving behaviour and increased their use of safety equipment after the PPS was introduced, although there were gender differences. Specifically, more females (than males) reported that they: stopped driving while under the influence of alcohol, exceeded the speed limit less often and began wearing their seat belt at all times after the PPS was introduced. These changes in behaviour may account for the observed reduction in traffic crashes and fatalities reported by the Spanish government. Nevertheless, despite the PPS many young drivers continued to engage in risky driving behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-275
Number of pages6
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Penalty point system
  • Protective behaviour
  • Risky driving behaviour
  • Spanish drivers
  • Young drivers


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