The Gold Coast Bulletin - Friday 30 December, 2005

Take away their cars

Page: 7
Section: General News
Region: Gold Coast QLD Circulation. 42,759
Type: Regional
Size: 664.66 sq.cms.

THE best way to keep dangerous drivers off Queensland roads is to confiscate their cars, according to the Pedestrian Council of Australia.

Chairman Harold Scruby yesterday said Premier Peter Beattie should stop talking about dangerous drivers and start taking action.

He said the council had written to the Premier after his comments this week referring to the state's horrific holiday road toll, which has now risen to nine the worst in the country.

"We can give him a few suggestions that he won't hear from his bureaucrats about how to stem the road toll," said Mr Scruby.

He said suspending the licences of offending drivers simply did not work.

"They just get in their cars and drive again," he said.

"Estimates put the number of unlicensed and disqualified drivers on our roads at between 10 and 12 per cent.

"When they are caught driving again, magistrates won't jail them they just give them more time off the road.

"We all know the results of that they just drive home.

"There's a very simple solution and that is to confiscate their vehicles."

Mr Scruby said politicians were too afraid to introduce such strong measures because it could affect other innocent family members.

However, new developments in technology could be employed to minimise the negative impact for such people, he said.

Requiring fingerprint access to start the motor or using satellite navigation allowing police to track the car could be used in exceptional circumstances.

Mr Scruby said anyone caught driving unlicensed or while disqualified should have their car impounded for three months and if they offended a second time the vehicle should be sold.

He said a 'three strikes' rule should be applied to drink drivers, with a third offence leading to immediate imprisonment.

"There is a bloke in NSW with 39 drink-driving convictions," said Mr Scruby.

"In California he would have a life sentence by now."

The RACQ and MTAQ said driver education and consistent sentencing were the key.

MTAQ executive director Tony Selmes said inconsiderate and ignorant drivers were a major problem.

"As someone who uses the M1 to travel to Brisbane for work, it appalls me to see some of the behaviour of drivers," he said.

"Every day I see dangerous driving habits caused by frustration and lack of consideration for other drivers."

He said young drivers were not the only ones to blame, and there were many Queensland motorists who would benefit from better driver education.

RACQ Gold Coast regional manager Brad Skyring said consistent sentencing for road offences was important. He said the RACQ believed a more visible police presence was also vital to reducing the state's road toll.

"If people see more and more speed cameras, radars and random breath-test units they believe they will be more likely to get caught," he said.

"Hopefully that perception works to discourage people from doing the wrong thing."