There is a theory that strict laws encourage anti-social behavior. Ultimately, these strict laws do the opposite of what they were intended to do, because they allow us to rationalize away responsibility. Along those lines, a Dutch town has eliminated nearly all traffic lights (via Jeff) and seen a decrease in the number of fatal accidents.
"It works well because it is dangerous, which is exactly what we want. But it shifts the emphasis away from the Government taking the risk, to the driver being responsible for his or her own risk.
As Brian commented, this is all about relying on personal accountability instead of explicit control measures. When someone else considers the risk and creates the rules, we get lazy about the risk analysis and management process. It doesn't help that these are familiar risks, and we tend to underestimate these types of risks.