Daily Telegraph - Tuesday 28 June 2005

4WD owners 'compensating'

By David Crawshaw

From: AAP

FOUR-wheel drive owners will often tell you they chose their vehicles for safety reasons.

But Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby reckons it has less to do with safety and more to do with compensating for anatomical deficiencies.

"There's a Freudian factor; certain people have to buy these large cars because they're missing elsewhere," Mr Scruby said today.

"The majority of drivers see (4WD owners) as aggressive and arrogant it's a certain type of person who has to have one of these vehicles and sit above everyone else."

Mr Scruby today called for the removal of tariff reductions for 4WDs as a study showed what many already suspected that 4WDs are the most dangerous cars on the road.

The Monash University study found 4WDs were far more likely than conventional vehicles to kill or maim other road users.

Mr Scruby, who drives a Subaru Outback, said it was hard to tell to what degree the people driving 4WDs were responsible for the high injury rates, and how much was due to the physical nature of 4WDs.

It was not really possible to improve safety for the occupants of one vehicle in a crash without compromising safety for the occupants of the other, he said.

Mr Scruby called on the Federal Government to scrap tariff reductions on 4WD vehicles, and to apply lower tariffs to safer vehicles.

People who genuinely needed 4WDs, such as those in remote areas, could be exempted from increased tariffs, he said.

But elsewhere 4WDs should be "taxed off the road".

"I don't think people in Mosman and Toorak should be getting these vehicles at 5-per-cent tax when a Corolla is taxed at 10 per cent," Mr Scruby said.

He also took aim at young drivers in regional areas who drove souped-up utes often adorned with bullbars, aerials and stickers.

"In the bush every young driver wants to drive a Holden ute with a bullbar," he said.

"It's a testosterone thing, it's all about 'mine is bigger than yours'."

NRMA vehicle policy expert Jack Haley said the high rate of injuries caused by 4WDs was due to the type of vehicle involved, not the behaviour of 4WD drivers.

The same tariffs should be applied to all cars, Mr Haley said.

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