Sunday Mail - Friday 29 December, 2006

Halt to 'scary' hot cars

By Stuart Sherwin

Halt to 'scary' hot cars

Stuart Sherwin

 ROAD safety campaigners believe the new restrictions on young drivers will help cut the state's shocking road death toll.

Citizens Against Road Slaughter, a Brisbane group that supports the families of crash victims, said the move was long overdue.

Spokeswoman Bobby Henry, whose teenage daughter was killed by a 17-year-old V8 driver eight years ago, said: "This should have been done a long time ago.

'A lot of lives lost on the roads could have been saved including my daughter's.

Ms Henry said she was disturbed by the increasing number of young drivers with high-performance cars and their obsession with speed.

"Every time I speak to young drivers they talk about the size of their car engines and how fast they can go, boasting that they can do 200km/h in 12 seconds," she said. "It's a scary situation because their families are the ones who will suffer."

Harold Scruby, the chairman of the Pedestrian Council, also welcomed the restrictions on younger drivers.

"New South Wales and Victoria have already introduced similar measures for P-platers and I fully support Queensland's move," he said.

"High-powered cars simply should not be in the hands of inexperienced drivers. It's not a fix-all solution. It won't stop young people dying on our roads, but it is definitely a step in the right direction."

Jeremy Davey of Queensland's Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, said: "Young people and high-performance cars just don't mix."

RACQ spokesman John Wikman said he wanted to see more detail.

"I think it will be very difficult (to police and legislate) because I think there's smaller cars out there that might be exempt," Mr Wikman said.

"It's still grey on which vehicles will comply and which won't comply."

He said the RACQ did not actively support the move but focused more on learner driver experience and restricting passengers in cars driven by young people.

"Intuitively, we would agree with it (that it would have a positive effect on the road toll)."

But Alan Evans, the president of the NRMA, said he doubted the move would save lives and noted similar restrictions on P-plate drivers in NSW and Victoria were riddled with inconsistencies.

"We have the ridiculous situation in NSW where young drivers are not allowed to drive Saabs and Volvos with five-star safety ratings because they have low-pressure turbo chargers," he said. "The fact is you can get killed at 60km/h. Kids can drive irresponsibly in any car.

"This system will only distract police from the task of catching dangerous drivers."

The specialist motor industry was just as scathing, saying the rules would be like a sledgehammer hitting their businesses. Some rely on under-25s for up to 90 per cent of trade.

"Every level of this industry feeds off each other," said spare parts company JDM Garage owner Erin Sykes. "We have a small customer base now and with no new faces coming through the doors some may be forced to let employees go."

Option 1 Garage owner Paul Williamson said authorities should sponsor more sanctioned "street" events that enabled fringe drivers to channel their energies and introduce a special licence for those wanting to drive turbo-charged cars.

"At least half of our customers are under 25 and the scene is getting bigger and bigger and the reason they play on the road is that there are not enough events," he said.

Additional reporting Jason Gregory and Renee Viellaris

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