Take our wost [sic] drivers' wheels away to save our lives
- Peter Rolfe From: Sunday Herald Sun December 12, 2010
VICTORIA'S worst drivers would have their cars confiscated for life under a radical overhaul of state safety(?) 'laws'.
The changes are being driven by road crash victims and the state's peak motoring body.
Repeat drink drivers, hoons, 'unlicensed' motorists and people behind the wheel of unroadworthy cars would have their cars permanently confiscated under the 'bold' plan to tackle the state's road toll.
The RACV has drawn up a nine-point action plan to stop Victoria's road carnage, including a hard-line approach to impounding and confiscating the cars of "abhorrent" drivers.
In an Australian first, motorists convicted for serious alcohol, drug, speed and dangerous driving offences would have their vehicles confiscated permanently under the safer roads blueprint.
Money raised through sale of the vehicles would be used to fund TAC education programs for young drivers.
The proposal comes as tougher 'laws' against drug drivers come into action today. They will face automatic licence suspension for three months and be fined more than $350.
The State Government agreed last night to consider the strategy if approached by the RACV as part of new anti-hoon legislation expected in state Parliament next year.
Under the RACV plan, 'hoons' caught for the first time would have their cars impounded for two weeks instead of 48 hours.
Second-time offenders would lose their vehicles for up to three months and third- time offenders would have their cars confiscated for life.
Unlicensed drivers and motorists driving unregistered cars would face impoundment and vehicle confiscations for the first time.
RACV public policy manager Brian Negus said a tough message had to be sent to motorists that dangerous driving was not acceptable.
"If they know there is a zero-tolerance approach to bad driving rather than just a slap on the wrist it will help change their behaviour," he said.
Working Against Culpable Driving founder Penny Martin, whose teenage son Josh was killed in a car crash in 2001, welcomed the RACV initiatives and urged the Government to get tougher on culpable drivers.
"They shouldn't be given a second or third chance - the Government needs to get tough from the first offence," she said.
Transport minister Terry Mulder said the Government welcomed the community's ideas on how to improve road safety, but said the RACV should focus on reducing "hip-pocket pain for motorists by reducing fuel prices".
"I note the RACV has not outlined how any of its proposals would be paid for," he said. After a horror run of fatalities, Victoria's road toll for 2010 may not be as bad as first expected.
A lower-than-anticipated number of fatalities on the state's roads last month has police hopeful they can keep the death tally below 300 - a mark considered almost impossible a month ago.
There were 12 people killed on our roads last month compared with 21 in the same period last year. Road Policing Superintendent Neville Taylor said police were cautiously optimistic about a turnaround in 'poor driver behaviour'.
"It's still doom and gloom because in the best-case scenario the toll will come in at just under 300 people," he said.
"We were looking pretty grim when we got to October because we had the highest months of fatalities for the year - 37.
"But in November we've had the lowest total of fatalities for the year so we're doing everything we can to keep it as low as possible."
Police caught 13 drink drivers in a booze bus operation in St Kilda on Friday night, including a 37-year-old Kew man who recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.11.
More than 315,000 drivers have been drink and drug tested by Victorian police since November 26 under a push to test a million motorists by the end of the year.
Supt Taylor said he was "astounded" Victorians still got behind the wheel after drinking, with every booze bus and breath-testing unit in the state wheeled out for the festive season.
After two years of record lows in Victorian road deaths, which saw 290 people killed last year and 303 in 2008, 280 have been killed so far this year compared with 264 at the same time last year.
In October Victoria's top traffic cop, Ken Lay, predicted the annual toll would be as high as 315.