7 July 2023

More cars likely to be seized as police target 'horrifying' speeds on Canberra's roads

| Claire Fenwicke
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police officers either side of a patrol car

ACT Policing officers will be targeting hoon driving and other reckless road behaviours throughout July. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Police are making the most of new car seizure powers by targeting hoon and reckless driving on Canberra’s roads throughout July.

New dangerous driving laws require officers to immediately suspend the licence of anyone caught going more than 45 km/h over the posted speed limit, and allows them to impound offending vehicles for 90 days.

Since the law came into effect in the past week, at least six drivers have had their right to drive taken away, while two vehicles have also been impounded.

Major Collision Team Detective Sergeant Jonathon Turkich said ACT Policing would be keeping an eagle eye out for intimidatory driving, burnouts, unsafe overtaking, speeding and other hoon behaviour throughout July.

“It’s all of those offences that we as a community are sick and tired of seeing on our roads,” he said.

“We’re not going to tolerate this sort of driving on our roads – it puts us in danger, it puts them in danger, and it puts all our families in danger.”

Police are still seeing similar levels of speeding, drunk and impaired driving, and hoon behaviour throughout Canberra, despite repeated pleas to slow down.

It’s especially disappointing in the wake of last year’s horrendous road toll, where 18 people were killed on ACT roads.

Hoon driving and excessive speeds were allegedly factors in some of the deaths.

“Those sorts of speeds, for me, are horrifying,” Sergeant Turkich said.

“I’d rather be five minutes late than not turn up at all, and I’m sure any family member, boss, doctor would prefer you to get there safe than get there in the back of an ambulance or be killed.”

The percentage of drivers speeding on our roads may be low, but the impact of their actions can be immense for the community.

“I don’t think you could find a fatality who you couldn’t draw some sort of connection to, especially if you lived in the ACT,” Sergeant Turkich said.

“At the end of the day I have to go home and drive, I have to use the roads, my grandma has to use the roads, my children have to use the roads – either walking or driving – and it’s not safe. I don’t want to have to turn up to a fatality involving them, I’m sure you don’t want me turning up to a fatality involving them either.”

READ ALSO Drunken Summernats jaw breaker acted in ‘criminal way’ during assault

Vehicle seizure laws have been welcomed as a “massive deterrent” against motorists being caught while already suspended from driving.

Major Collision Team Leading Senior Constable Nathan Smorhun said if people weren’t concerned about the potential death and destruction they could cause by excessively speeding, losing their vehicle might be the factor to make them think twice.

And don’t expect any leniency when it comes to your licence.

“[Driving] 45 km/h [over the speed limit] is a ludicrous speed,” he said.

“According to the legislation, exceeding the speed limit by 45 km/h is an immediate suspension offence.”

smashed-up car

This vehicle wasn’t even excessively exceeding the speed limit when it collided with a truck. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Leading Senior Constable Smorhun said police were keeping an eye on all motorists.

“It’s people of all ages, all genders, all demographics – they always come up with their own excuses to try and justify what they’ve done, but there’s no excuse for driving at those speeds or driving in those matters,” he said.

Sergeant Turkich urged drivers to think twice before taking such a massive risk on our roads.

“To have your independence taken away from you on the spot, and then have the matter taken to court, is a massive deal,” he said.

“It means you have to find alternate transport, you have to rely on friends, rely on family, and tell the embarrassing story about why your vehicle is where it is. Because I don’t think anyone in the community can accept driving in excess of 45 km/h of the speed limit, no matter who they are.”

READ ALSO Push to remove presumption of bail from alleged dangerous driving offences

The new dangerous driving laws came into effect in the ACT on 22 June.

A 19-year-old P-plate driver from Banks was the first Canberran to have his licence immediately suspended under the new laws after being caught going 147 km/h in the 90 km/h zone on the Monaro Highway.

A Ferrari and Ford Falcon have also been seized for excessive speeding across the first weekend of July.

Most recently a 21-year-old woman was detected at 133 km/h in an 80 km/h zone, while two P-plate drivers – a 17-year-old boy and 18-year-old man – were caught street racing at 105 km/h in the 60 km/h zone on Athllon Drive at about 11:30 pm on Tuesday (4 July).

All six drivers had their licences immediately suspended for 90 days.

Anyone with information about dangerous driving behaviour is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Very thankful to see the legislation and its immediate enactment by ACT Police. Hoping that this paves the way to tougher high-speeding laws where 45km/h + with 12 months suspension and 30km/h + with 6 months suspension

this is great, but still only tackling one cause of accidents.

what about the rest – mobile phone usage, red light runners, pulling out in front of others etc?? some of these could equally cause road trauma and the guilty should face a loss of licence and/or car.

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