New hooning laws are a waste of time

THE State Government's latest crackdown on hoons has been labelled a waste of time by a Sunshine Coast expert in driver behaviour.

New laws which came into force on Friday give police unprecedented powers to impound hoons' vehicles and have been heralded as the toughest in the nation.

Drivers will have their cars impounded for 90 days if they are caught for dangerous operation; careless driving, such as burn-outs or drifting; racing; speed trials and evading police.

"Take away their vehicles and we take away their ability to commit dangerous and reckless driving offences, which risk the lives of everyone else on the road," Commissioner Ian Stewart said.

But University of the Sunshine Coast research fellow Dr Bridie Scott-Parker, who works with young novice drivers in a bid to understand the psyche of hooning and irresponsible behaviour behind the wheel, said confiscating the cars would not stop people breaking the law.

"The ones I've spoken to aren't hooning in their main cars. They're borrowing their girlfriend's, mate's or parents' cars, or they buy a bomb for $200," she said.

"That car is the one that's taken. We know with those instances, that's not punishing the person who's doing the behaviour.

"We need to look at punishing the driver."

Dr Scott-Parker said research also showed hoons were not always young drivers.

"We've seen a spike in middle-aged men - whether it's a mid-life crisis or independence - but there is a larger proportion of middle-aged men buying hotted-up cars," she said.

"I've spoken to young drivers, through a focus group, and they felt the police believe they were all hoons and it was a bit unfair.

"We have to be careful with legislation, we don't want to send the message that all young drivers are hoons."

Dr Scott-Parker admitted the new legislation would work "for some people", but said the government needed to be more "savvy" in its law enforcement.

"They (hoons) think of ways to get around them," she said.

"We need to be the next step ahead. How do we get around those people getting around them now?

"It's not enough to just bring in the laws and if we're taking the car away and it's not their car, it's not hurting them.

"That's not going to influence that person."

Dr Scott-Parker said she considered the Fatal Five more dangerous than hooning and wanted to see more done to combat those risky behaviours.

"I'm more concerned about speeding, drink-driving and texting," she said.

"I'm not so concerned about hooning."

Acting Assistant Commissioner Mike Keating, from the Road Policing Command, said the new laws focused on motorists engaged in anti-social and unsafe driving behaviours and drivers with illegal vehicle modifications.

"Motoring enthusiasts have nothing to fear, nor does the average motorist," he said.

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