Research Papers

Managing illegal street racing and associated risky driving behaviour: an Australian perspective

Filename Leal.pdf
Filesize 201 KB
Version 1
Date added June 6, 2010
Downloaded 2 times/fois
Category 2010 CMRSC XX Niagara
Tags Session 6B
Author/Auteur Nerida Leal, Barry Watson, Kerry Armstrong


Illegal street racing has received increased attention in recent years from the media, governments and road safety professionals. At the same time, there has been a shift from treating illegal street racing as a public nuisance issue to a road safety problem in Australia, as this behaviour now attracts a penalty of increased periods of vehicle impoundment leading to permanent vehicle forfeiture for repeat offences. This severe vehicle sanction is typically applied to repeat drink driving offenders and drivers who breach suspensions and disqualifications in North American jurisdictions, but was first introduced in Australia to deal with illegal street racing and associated risky driving behaviours, grouped together under the label of ‘hooning’ in Australian jurisdictions. This paper describes how Australian jurisdictions are dealing with this issue. The research described in this paper drew on multiple data sources to explore illegal street racing and the management of this issue in Australia. First, the paper reviews the relevant legislation in each Australian state to describe the cross-jurisdictional similarities and differences in approaches. It also describes some results from focus group discussions and a quantitative online survey with drivers who self-report engaging in illegal street racing and associated behaviours in Queensland, Australia. It was found that approaches to dealing with illegal street racing and associated risky driving behaviours in each Australian state are similar, with increasing periods of vehicle impoundment (leading to vehicle forfeiture) applied to repeat hooning offences within prescribed periods. Participants in the focus groups and respondents to the questionnaire generally felt these penalty periods were severe, with perceptions of severity increasing with the length of the penalty period. It was concluded that there is a need for each jurisdiction to objectively evaluate the effectiveness of their vehicle impoundment and forfeiture programs for hooning. These evaluations should compare the relative costs of these programs (e.g., enforcement, unrecovered towing and storage fees, and court costs) to the observed benefits (e.g., reduction in target behaviours, reduction in community complaints, and reduction in the number and severity of associated crashes).

Nerida Leal, Barry Watson and Kerry Armstrong