In my humble opinion, it is time, in fact, it is long since time, for a thorough review of the fines local governments and municipalities assess for driving infractions.
What I am proposing for consideration, is to tailor or factor the fine to the location, damages and resulting police/rescue costs from the infraction, and the number of folks inconvenienced (if any).
Essentially, if you are snagged for running a red light, and you caused an accident, at the busiest intersection in town at the height of rush hour, look out. You have delayed possibly 1000 people for upwards of an hour, you have smashed someone else’s car, and you have tied up police and fire rescue personnel for however long it takes to get things back to normal. The fine for running the light under these circumstances should be pegged to the actual value of the damage that results. 1000 people for an hour, minimum wage (this averages out the fat cats and the unemployeds) all the police and rescue costs, etc., and I could easily see a fine (first offense) in the $10,000 range.
(Now, I also think, that a given persons’ auto insurance policy should cover the fine. But realize, the insurance premiums will need to be adjusted for this.)
Now if you space off a stop sign in a residential neighborhood, no wreck, no pedestrian to remove from your grill, then the fine should reflect the value of the police effort to nab you, probably pretty close to the current ‘running average’ for that offense.
I see the effect of this as ‘moving’ the moving violations from the busiest intersections, to rural, and bucolic suburbs, at least for those folks compulsive about breaking driving laws. Most of the rest of will just drive safer, and enjoy our shortened commuting times.
Essentially, I am using ‘Adam Smith capitalism’ to establish fines at their ‘fair market’ price. Is the payoff fewer wrecks, better drivers, and a nice bump in the local government coffers to fix the damn potholes?