-   Wednesday 18 May 2005

Four-wheel-drive feedback readers have had plenty to say in the wake of New South Wales coroner Jacqueline Milledge's recommendation that drivers of four-wheel-drive vehicles be required to acquire special licences, and that 4WDs be banned from the grounds of all state primary schools.

We've published some of the best responses below.

Enter your feedback Feedback: Have your say

From: Ken
Comment: There is no valid reason to own a 4WD in urban areas. Most have no more load capacity than people movers, and cause disproportionate environmental impact in both production and operation. Furthermore, the Pittwater House case illustrates the danger they pose to innocent lives.

From: Angela
Comment: I do not find that 4WDs are valid at all in city areas. Most of the people who buy these only do it for prestige and have no idea on how to drive them. There should be a special driver's testing in place before they are allowed to drive such a vehicle - like truck license.

From: Nic
Comment: 4WDs make as much sense on city roads as a combine harvester. They decrease the visibility of other drivers, and make parking/crossing roads more hazardous than they already are. Ban them!

From: Chris
Comment: Coroner's recommendations are a good first step. 4WD vehicles are an outright menace and indulgence on urban roads. Drivers should also have to pay much higher taxes for the damage and resources they waste, too!!!

From: Dale
Comment: What is a special licence going to do? Does it make people see what is in their blind spots? Does it stop a child running from behind one car to another car just as the drive looks from left to right? I don't think so. Keeping 4WDs out of high risk areas I believe is a damn good start.

From: Jurgen
Comment: Getting a licence in Australia is too easy; no special driver courses are required for ANY car types. Defensive driving courses to learn about your car's handling, braking systems and distances should be mandatory in ALL cases, not just 4WDs. There is no place for them in cities; they block the view, pollute and take up too much space. Owners of suburban registered 4WD vehicles should face vastly increased annual fees.

From: notrevol
Comment: It is sad that people believe their individual rights should take precident over the best interest of wider society. Here we have a case of a clearly identified (and unnecessary) risk caused by oversized vehicles to all road users (pedestrian, cyclists, motorbikes and regular cars), but faced with the choice of restricting these vehicles, will popular voice yet again demand the rights of individuals to own these cars over the rights of all road users to a safe environment.

From: Rob
Comment: 4WD owners really should have additional licence conditions because if they genuinely intend to use them for their purpose, the skills and knowledge needed to drive them are significantly more advanced than those required for regular driving. Those not needing this training shouldn't be driving 4WD vehicles anyway. I have had 4WD training twice for use in workplace situations and it was very useful. I also observed a "4WD untrained" driver at work almost put her car and three passengers into a rollover because she didn't appreciate the change in speed and style required when driving a tall vehicle that was tilted on an angle.

From: Heath
Comment: We have a separate licence for motorcycles, trucks, etc, why not for 4WDs and in my opinon eight-cylinder cars. By having a separate licence we can ensure future 4WD drivers are better skilled to handle such a vehicle.

From: R Banks
Comment: Any vehicle is a potential weapon whether it is 4WD or not. I have a 4WD and a Mini Cooper S....both can be lethal if you do the wrong thing. Should I also have a special licence because I drive a sports car? How about large utes? Should they have a special license? And what about the biggest menace - cyclists - when are we going to licence them?

From: Ian
Comment: These vehicles are owned by a variety of people for a number of uses. But ultimately, Australia is a free country and we have the choice to drive whatever is legal under Australian Design Rules and our licensing. The solution may lie in other ways, such as transferable insurance and registration. In my case, where I own a 4WD, I could also have a small car for all the suburban use and use the 4WD only when necessary.

From: Glenn
Comment: I drive a 4WD (which I will state up front IS actually for off-road use, but is also used in the city - where I live), and if treated properly they are not a "menace" on the roads. I think the idea of a special 4WD license is a good one. They do handle differently to smaller cars and if you have learned to drive in, say, a Mazda 323, and then get behind the wheel of a Landcruiser you will probably not have proper control. I would have not problem with going and getting a specialised licence for my vehicle, and it may be a good deterrent for people who want to drive them just because they are big. However, if a licence system is brought in, the there should be no restricted zones, as the people driving the 4WD should be well aware of the limitations.

From: Oliver
Comment: 4WDs are here to stay whatever their intended purpose is. If I live in an urban area and regularly go camping/ touring the countryside, I am going to continue to own my 4WD. That would then involve driving my children to school in my 4WD. Not all of us can afford to have multiple cars.

From: Ryan
Comment: I own a 4WD which I use for going off road and fishing now and then. I certainly couldn't afford to own a second vehicle just to run down the shops in. If people own them purely for running about town, then I think that's wrong. But how could you police that?

From: Natalie
Comment: I think high wheel-base/4WD vehicles should be forced to display stickers on their bumper bars saying "Watch out for me because I'm not watching out for you", "Kid's face height" or "Pet killer"- like cigarette warnings.

From: Steve
Comment: I Think a special course for 4WD and larger vans that carry passengers should come in as a lot of people can not park or back them at all and sadly a child could get killed. I think the course should include backing with a trailer as this makes you very aware of using your mirrors and once you can back a trailer OK backing without one is a lot easier and you know the limitations of your vehicle. Also radio/stereo should be off and wind the drivers window down to hear for noises like someone yelling out to you to stop but the main thing is commonsense which people just do not have anymore! I am a truck driver and practise the above.

From: Jessica
Comment: Why do Sydneysiders feel the need to drive 4WDs? I would like to know how many people in Sydney actually take their 4WD to the outback and use it for the purpose it was designed for. I bet you would find it is a minimal number. They are mini trucks and they are sold to people who are not equipped to drive them. The big car companies are cashing in on this opportunity to exploit those people who are so influenced by money and having the 'in thing' that they are forgetting about safety on the roads. They should be banned!

From: Adrian
Comment: I believe that there should be limitations on 4WDs in urban areas unless it can be shown that it is required/used for the main purpose of 4WDing

From: Jane
Comment: Don't criticise the vehicle and the many responsible 4WD owner/drivers. Like everything in life, there is the small minority who drive around thinking they are above the law and more important that everyone else. I have seen many people killed and injured by even very small sedans. Remember any vehicle not driven with great care and attention, regardless of where, is a death machine.

From: K Chan
Comment: Quite clearly some people need 4WDs for rural commute. However there is a distinct group of people who use 4WDs for nothing but urban areas. 4WDs are larger and provide less visibility for both driver and other motorists. I have personally been in many dangerous situations involving 4WDs. Perhaps it is because I am not the best driver however I suspect that many drivers of 4WDs feel that size equates to greater safety for their own family with little regard to the families of other motorists. Answer - only provide a licence to drive a 4WD to those who can demonstrate that they use their vehicles off-road at least 10 times a year or something similar.

From: Kathleen
Comment: 4WDs should be removed from our cities and town centres. Ask any survivor who has suffered substantial injury as a result of a minor 4WD impact. And why do we see so many 4WD vehicles overturned on our highways?

From: Adrian
Comment: Drivers are the problem no matter what the machine is they're driving.

From: Mikebr> Comment: They may offer more protection for the occupant mum and the kids. However they are an absolute nightmare for other drivers by blocking vision and negatively influencing traffic flows. They also offer limited vision while parking. They should be totally banned in urban areas, at least in peak traffic times.

From: Daniel
Comment: Hmmm... How NOT to sound like I support Harold Scruby and his evil, motor vehicle-hating ways...? 4WDs are not for doing the school run. The only purposes for behemoths like the Patrol, Land Cruiser et al, are towing boats and bush bashing. It's a common belief that young, affluent mothers own them because they can't drive properly and believe - wrongly - that 4WDs are safer than cars. Maybe it's more than an urban myth? And to those 4WD owners who say their vehicles serve two purposes: why spend $60k on a tank? Surely you could drop your outlay a little and pick up a used car as well. Food for thought.

From: Michael
Comment: I believe 4WDs on suburban roads are dangerous. There are no safety advantages to driving such a large vehicle in fact reduced visibility increases potential for accidents. Primary producers and tradespersons should be the only people within metropolitan areas allowed to register said vehicles.

From: Vikram
Comment: There is no need for 4WDs in urban areas. It can't be justified for taking kids to school/shopping/etc - people use sedans/station wagons/etc for these purposes every day. 4WD headlights are also a pain for sedan drivers - they are blinding.

From: Chris
Comment: What are we going to ban next? More people are killed due to delivery truck injuries than by 4WDs. Shall we ban them too? What about V8's. They pollute more than most 4WDs and have actually killed more people.... A little balance would be nice.

From: Sara
Comment: I agree that 4WD drivers should be required to undertake special training and acquire a 4WD licence just as truck drivers do. People in 4WDs need to know that they are driving a vehicle much different to a sedan and be able to demonstrate that knowledge in some sort of formal testing procedure. Some do not seem aware of - or choose to ignore - the fact that they are driving such a large vehicle and appear to be unable to properly handle the task therefore putting others at risk.

From: Bob
Comment: Poor car control and driver awareness is prevalent on our roads. Driver education should be targeted to promote the responsible , aware and safe use of all classes of vehicle. Banning/limiting large 4WDs, along with simplistic 'speed kills' programs, are emotive issues based on subjective data. A complete overhaul of our driver training and licensing is needed.

From: Jo
Comment: Huge ones like Toyota Landcruisers and Nissan Patrols should be banned near schools. If you can afford one of those, you have another car. But smaller ones may be OK. The problem isn't all 4WDs though. There just is not enough parking spaces provided. I walk with my boy to his school (which is 3 streets away) and I am amazed at how many parents who live closer to the school still drive there. I get home before they do.

From: Billy Bob
Comment: The type of car is not the problem. It's the drivers who are the problem

From: Daniel
Comment: Why don't we look at the cause of these fatalities, nothing to do with the vehicles. Purely people's inability to concentrate and drive appropriately for the conditions. Driver education and making driver licensing as difficult as gun licensing... they are both deadly weapons. WHy is one more acceptable and easy to get licence for than the other?

From: Max
Comment: A good tradesman never blames his tools. It is the driver who is to blame, not the car. Driver education needs to be increased with emphasis not only on 4WDs, but V8s, sport sedans as well.

From: James
Comment: The urban 4WD is certainly overkill for ferrying kids to school and picking up the shopping. They are heavy, expensive to run, and it's difficult to see past them in traffic. Not to mention many larger 4WD owners seem oblivious to the fact they're driving a vehicle that weighs almost twice a normal car, yet they still drive them like they were a sports car. The proof that these are fashion items are the 'toy' 4WD's that have road car suspension. They don't even have anything like the proper suspension needed for serious offroading. The city 4WD is a fashion item, nothing more, and the sooner the fad fades the better.

From: Bruce
Comment: In terms of visibility, the difference between a 4WD and a people mover or delivery van would be... ? Perhaps other vehicles should also be on the agenda.

From: Anon
Comment: I am constantly astounded by the bullying prevalent on our roads by 4WD drivers, and totally agree with the suggestion of a 4WD tax and special licence.

From: Fiona
Comment: Knowing someone who suffered the loss of a beautiful toddler for the same reason, I am motivated by sadness and compassion. However, logic dictates that 4WDs simply are not necessary in the burbs.

From: Jeff
Comment: My wife was hospitalised with severe injuries and my then two-year-old and 6-month old daughters were admitted to hospital because another driver went through a stop sign and my wife T-bared his car. He was unhurt. I will never let my family be put at risk due to others negligence and from now on my wife will never have anything smaller than a mid range 4WD.

From: Jody
Comment: I believe that yes, large 4WDs are a safety risk in metropolitan areas. If I were to design 4WD vehicles I would put sensor alerts on the rear of the vehicle if there were a young child close behind the vehicle a noise would be activated and the driver could halt immediately. Perhaps we should enforce this system to be installed on all 4X4s in the market, currently owned and imperative for 4X4 enthusiasts. The manufactures should pay for this system to be installed as I consider these large vehicles as faulty for that reason.

From: Michael
Comment: Its not the vehicles. it is the drivers who are to blame. People need to realise that they should take extra precautions when driving what is now considered a station wagon. Take that extra 10 seconds before driving your vehicle will not only help the engine but will give you an opportunity to check the surrounding area before moving will be glad you did!

From: Robyn
Comment: 4WDs do not have a place in urban areas, they are unnecessary and dangerous. I HATE driving in traffic with them as they are so big they obscure the view of the regular sized car. Additionally, NO cars should be driven in school grounds, we have 40km/h zones around schools and buses because the behaviour of kids is unpredictable.

From: Stephen
Comment: Why can't crossing monitors control the car parks/drive-throughs of our schools to ensure the safety of our children. These car parks are very busy. The people who use them are rushed and children usually have easy access. The problem snowballs from there and is a recipe for disaster. I own a 4WD and i think a short course perhaps conducted over a weekend to at the very least identify safety issues/differences associated with these big vehicles

From: Natasha
Comment: Why should families have to buy two cars, one to take the kids to school and another to go on holidays with. Implement a restricted driving zone around schools.

From: Anon
Comment: If you need a 4WD in the city, then there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to have one. However, I hardly believe there is that many people out there who have a genuine need for one, and that is for getting off road and in for driving in difficult terrain. City drivers who own them for any other reason than necessity are only adding to pollution problems and the added risk of accidents occurring due to lack of driver skill and knowledge. The impact of a specialist driver's licence is worth considering if it means saving lives.

From: Greg
Comment: Change the licensing of large 4WDs. They should be classified as light truck.

From: David
Comment: Anyone who thinks 4WDs are safer will soon find out when they smash into another 4WD and everyone ends up seriously injured, whereas if they were both in cars everyone would be OK. Compared with a car, they pull up to a stop over longer distances, don't swerve as quickly, and you can't see the road surface as close to the vehicle. Car dealers and current owners justifying their purchase continue to perpetuate the myth they are good for the average family, despite all evidence to the contrary. It's about time the truth came out.

From: Jason
Comment: 4WDs are unsuitable for urban traffic. They block the view of other road users behind them and cause traffic chaos when parking such a big car in small parking space in the shopping centres. They are a threat to pedestrians if hit by them and they are not at all safer than any road cars if they roll over. A large sedan, station wagon or people mover would do the job just as good, as safe and more road user friendly.

From: Andrew
Comment: The whole 4WD culture is another example where you can only feel good about yourself if you have bigger, more expensive, and better possessions than the Joneses. The only heavy carrying commonly done by these vehicles, originally designed for commercial purposes are large egos, and ferrying about tubby little Kylie and Jason who should be walking to school!

From: Lach
Comment: I have one but I tow a boat and take it to our property For most people however they are just a cooler version of the good old station wagon. Should they be banned? Absolutely not, last time I checked this was a free country.

From: Max
Comment: People seem to be forgetting that the reason this accident occurred was mainly because Bethany's father was not holding her hand at the time of the accident but was further ahead (i.e. could not see her) with an older child . Had he been holding her hand it is very unlikely that the tragedy would have occurred. Parents must take responsibility for their young children, as always.

From: Murray
Comment: 4WDs aren't the menace. It's the lack of skills of the people that are driving them that's the problem. Any car, not just 4WDs have the potential to kill if the driver cannot control it effectively. Education/Training is the issue here. Garbage trucks have video cameras at the rear so the driver can see what's behind him. Maybe these should be compulsory for all cars/trucks over a certain size?

From: Andrew
Comment: Mosman Tractors are a pox on our roads, people who buy them to be able to view more of the road are selfish, create congestion and endanger others. The federal government supports them through lower tariffs to please its baby boomer voter base.

From: Noel
Comment: 4x4s are an absolute menace. They are a symptom of small d--k syndrome. Guys buy them and find they can't stand driving them in the city so give them to the Mrs to drive who can't handle them let alone see over the steering wheel. They're hard to park and they block visibility for other drivers. 4x4 drivers are dangerously aggressive and pushy thinking they can go anywhere and park anywhere and push in where they like. Let's give them the flick

From: Dras
Comment: Sure keep CARS outta school grounds but to pick on one type of car is jsut plain silly. If the car had been a Moke or a Commodore would we be calling for their bans??? i think not.

From: Steve
Comment: People who have to use 4WD vehicles in urban areas have lost the plot.

From: Bert
Comment: A Ford Falcon is bigger than most small 4WDs. Trucks are even bigger. It seems that we all want to discriminate ? as long as it is not based on Race. I think we should address following distance, a subject where laws have been passed, with no enforcement thereof. How many nose to tail accidents have you seen lately?

From: Kylie
Comment: They do not belong in our cities! They are dangerous & owned by the worst drivers! I say ban them or tax them ridiculously

From: bob
Comment: I consider everything about them as dangerous. The bullbars ,size and weight cause over twice the damage to other cars and drivers

From: Steve
Comment: 4WDs can be justified in urban areas if they are also used off road for their designed purpose some of the time - like holidays, weekends etc. However, drivers should know how to handle them safely. I think the whole anti-4WD thing is a bit unfair as people in large Asian cities adequately demonstrate that you can survive perfectly well with a moped, which is much less of a danger to others than a small car. Yet, even with the high road toll in Australia these same people who want to ban 4WDs don't want to give up their cars for the safety of others. Not really fair is it?

From: Aaron
Comment: Blaming the type of vehicle is simply an attempt by the driver to avoid her full share of responsibility. It wasn't harming anyone until she got behind the wheel.

From: Geoff
Comment: Large 4WD's purchasers should be made to justify the reason for purchase, whilst smaller 4WD's are not any bigger than some station-wagons, so no fuss. What about a competency driving test?

From: Neil
Comment: 4WDs are undoubtedly a pox. They are a danger to children, pedestrians, smaller cars, motorcycists, the environment and even to their vertically challenged drivers, due to their tendency to roll over. Many of these bonehead drivers even fit bullbars, making them even more dangerous. They should certainly be banned in urban areas and the owners issued with high heel shoes as compensation.

From: Peter
Comment: I drive a 4WD, and although there is significant hysteria about this issue, I believe that all 4WD drivers should be tested and issued appropriate large vehicle licenses, and all vehicles should be fitted with the equivalent of parking sensors (front and rear) under the law, including retro fitting all 4WD's already on the road.

From: Scott
Comment: 4Wds due to their size and specialised design, should require a special license to drive. A 'special' registration fee might also help to keep these behemoths from urban streets where they do not belong.

From: Michael
Comment: 4WD vehicles have very little to do in urban areas - just ask the owners how many times they go bush. Most family sedans and wagons have just as much interior space and carry (legally) the same number of passengers. 4WD have no place in schools or shops!

From: Nathan
Comment: The proliferation of 4WDs in our suburbs is the result of slick marketing to office bound pencil pushers who think they are wilderness men. There is no need for them. Most alarming is the false concept that these ridiculous cars provide greater safety when all evidence is to the contrary. The Government's reluctance to legislate against 4WDs smacks of fear of the 4WD lobby. My sympathy to the family of poor Bethany. She shouldn't have died so that Mr Average in the suburbs can think he is Malcolm Douglas as he goes to buy a carton of milk from the local supermarket.

From: Tony
Comment: There is nothing wrong with 4WD vehicles. Stop blaming the vehicle and have a good look at the drivers as they are the ones in control and need to drive responsibly having due regard to the circumstances around them.

From: Therese
Comment: I lived in the North West of WA for 14 years and drove a 4WD. On returning to civilisation I could not justify the cost of the Petrol for dropping kids to school and sport so purchased a nice little four cylinder. I hate coming up to corners, T junctions and parking between two 4WDs in public car parks. The amount of near misses is alarming. They SHOULD restrict them in built up areas and they should have their own parking areas in public car parks and no cars should be allowed on school property

From: Alex
Comment: Don't throw us all in the same basket. Not all of us urban 4WD users use these vehicles for dropping off the kids. These are practical vehicles for most people and own them for a purpose. Do we need MORE rules and regulations in this country?

From: Ted
Comment: SUVs are no different than the thousands of utility vehicles used by tradesmen, delivery services etc and have better visibility than most. The visibility from a SUV is better than from a sedan. I haven't heard one word that explains why the fact that this vehicle was a SUV made any difference. Why was a vehicle of any kind on a school playground and why was the child allowed to run around amongst vehicles of any kind? People with agendas rarely tell the whole story. No I don't own an SUV.

From: Stuart
Comment: Not only should 4WDs be banned from school grounds, they should be removed from city roads as well. Those who wish to drive one should have to give good reason and perform an extended driver education program. 4WDs are proven to use more fuel and more wear and tear on roads.

From: Michael
Comment: Four wheel drives have every right to have access to urban areas. Just because some one chooses to own a 4x4 does not mean they should be penalised.

From: Andrew
Comment: People can drive the vehicles they see fit, we don't live in a communist regime. But people need to be prepared to accept the consequences of their actions. If you want a big SUV then learn how to drive, and park, it properly or get rid of it and buy something else. As for bullbars, there is no need for a city dwelling car to have one, they should require special registration. And, yes I do drive a big SUV myself.

From: Rema
Comment: I don't believe 4WDs should be allowed to be driven in the city areas. They are too big, take up a lot of car space in parking lots, hard to see when you are behind them or to the side of them. They are not made for city living and should be banned.

From: Wayne
Comment: 4WDs don't kill, drivers do. Let's not continue to place blame on the 4WD's when there real focus should be on the driver. I drive a 4WD and would be more than happy to have to hold a special licence. I see poor 4wder's on the road daily, but i also see poor drivers period. Driver training is the key, not vehicle banning.

From: Dusty
Comment: It's not the car. It's the driver