Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists


Surviving the Hoons

Wednesday 14 April 2010

One of the current affairs TV programs did a story recently on the efforts by NSW police to crack down on 'hoon' drivers through a specific squad targeting them. The Victorian Police recently announced a similar project with the squad headed up by one of Victoria Police's most effective senior officers, Inspector Bernie Rankin. Unusually for the TV program concerned, it chose to do less of the 'sensationalising' more typical of those types of programs and instead used a discussion between one of the so called 'hoons' and a member of the public keen to get them off the road. It was perhaps the best piece of footage covering the issue for quite some time and gave the final clue to what actions need to be taken by the wider community to address the challenge:

Crush their cars.

The meeting between the alleged hoon and the member of the public took place in an underground car park and the discussion was well handled.  No one could say that the younger man supporting hoon driving was not intelligent - quite the contrary - his demeanour and way he put the argument forward was indicative of someone who had a great deal of intelligence.  What was clear though is that his justification was not in alignment with what the wider public wants.

We best remind ourselves that this discussion is not about 'hoon driving' alone but rather the problem it often represents - that hoon driving leads to the deaths and injuries of thousands of (often) young people each year.  And let's not beat around the bush either - these accidents cost society a heap of money in the form of taxes being spent on hospital admissions, recovery programs, insurances, road campaigns and more.  And yes, the greater cost is of lives, the tragic and soul destroying impacts on those left behind.

The interview in the carpark saw just one 'crack' in the thinking of our young hoon and that was when it was suggested that his car ought to be crushed and how devastated he would feel if it were to happen.

Which is why this is the obvious, required and ultimately short term response to the challenge.  Even better, as part of the crushing, do it in public with the offender being required to push the button on the crusher - it would the 'stocks and tomatoes in the Town Square' equivalent of the 21st Century.

But a longer term fix is required which I suggest requires at least two further steps:

  • Legislation that allows a car to be impounded if police suspect the car has been modified for the purpose of being able to exceed the speed limit; and
  • a requirement that all cars in Australia be limited in their ability to speed.

The real 'final' step would be to utilise automatic speed adjustments in vehicles that prevent them from being able to exceed speed limits in any given zone.  The technology is now available to utilise WiFi networks to 'trigger' speed limitations in a car's computer system such that they are unable to exceed a certain speed threshold.  Such a system may be a while off but it is perhaps the single most significant step that might resolve the challenge of dealing with hoon drivers.

In the meantime, we need to also think about giving these kids something worthwhile to do which would likely include acting as orderlies in hospitals in the trauma centres and rehabilitation clinics, and digging holes in graveyards

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