The law needs to slow down, not the speeding driversFebruary 6, 2015
DID you get booked for speeding over the January holidays? Did you feel bad about it? There is no need to.
Speed limits are too low, set by the wrong people, and police labour under the ridiculous notion that by enforcing them they can reduce road accidents.
And if you were booked under the “hoon” laws, the same applies. There is no need to feel bad.
There is nothing wrong with having a modified car or doing burnouts, provided you didn’t endanger other people. The police may think they’re doing something useful for society by harassing you, but they’re wrong. They’re the ones who should feel bad.
This isn’t to suggest some people should not be on the road or that we don’t need road laws. Driver licensing and our road laws help the majority of drivers get to their destination safely.
However, speed limits and hoon laws make minimal contribution to that. Despite the vast growth in cars on our roads, it’s thanks to improved vehicle and road design, along with getting drunk drivers off the road, that our annual road fatalities are now at historic lows.
The most draconian legislation is invariably drawn up by the most authoritarian and arrogant regimes
And yet, governments and the police maintain an obsession with speed and hoons.
Over the years there has been a law-and-order auction by state governments to introduce the most draconian laws against car enthusiasts, giving police the right to do almost anything to anyone they deem a petrol-head.
The setting and enforcement of speed limits has also been driven by a desire to raise revenue, not save lives.
With the NSW election approaching, it’s a safe bet we’re going to hear more talk about law-and-order.
Laws targeting hoons reveal a great deal about our governments. The most draconian legislation is invariably drawn up by the most authoritarian and arrogant regimes.
Unsurprisingly, Queensland leads the way, with laws allowing police to confiscate first offenders’ cars for three months. The owner is required to pay $20 to $80 a day for impounding the car.
Second offenders may have their cars sold or crushed.
In NSW, much wasting of police time and resources is devoted to things such as “defect stations” where owners must prove identified faults do not infringe regulations.
But the worst thing is the licence given to police to target car enthusiasts.
No distinction is made between regular car enthusiasts and those who endanger others. If they don’t like the look of you, it’ll cost you. Ordinary citizens who choose to own a modified car, or even a standard high- performance vehicle, are stopped and hassled without reason.
Worse, police in various states are now able to charge you for dangerous driving on private property when you’re clearly not a danger to the public. Your vehicle can even be impounded when parked on your property.
The role of the police and the laws they enforce should be to protect the public from others, not protect people from themselves or prevent behaviour of which politicians and the police disapprove.
David Leyonhjelm is Liberal Democrats senator for NSW