Thursday, 28 January 2016



The terrible crash on Melbourne's Ring Road this week requires a look at the way our society copes with youth on wheels.

Enforcing hoon laws with more uniform police is not the whole answer. At best, enforcement reduces hooning. At worst road authorities use hoon laws to be seen doing something. The later means isolated enforcement, youths singled out, examples made. Resentment of police increases.

Police and community attitudes to young people, their energy and curiosity, are part of our hoon problem. It's a sympton of an ageing population. Restrict, control, learn from me, when I was your age ... and so on.

Change the culture back to service from control in road authorities. Put driver/rider education in schools with a career path for road user educators. A teacher goes to uni to teach kids to kick, swing, swim, jump or run, but just about anyone can teach a kid to drive/ride.

Use facilities and build more. We have drive/ride facilties that lie idle a lot while millions are spent on bicycle paths and skateboard parks. Circuits at Sandown, Calder, Broadford, Winton and Phillip Island are available for much of the year. Spend tax dollars on drive/ride days and help grass roots motoring clubs with costs so young drivers and riders are mentored by people they respect, the way it was.

Involve  Police/Vicroads/TAC staff interacting with young people. Combine motor sport and education. Break down the barriers between young and old, old and young.

Young people seek adventure. Don't try to ban it. Bans can't work. Restrictions promote rebellion. Channel the energy. Seeking limits drives young humans to achieve in fields from driving and riding to finding planets and curing the incurable.

Damien Codognotto
Independent Riders Group

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