Let’s talk: Do we need harsher penalties for dangerous drivers?

Every year they roll out warnings pleading with people to be safe on the roads, but every year there are
Let's Talk
Dangerous driving is a huge issue across the country.

Every year they roll out warnings pleading with people to be safe on the roads, but every year there are those who defy the law and put everyone else on the road at risk.

Police have been left dismayed after figures showed a 6.8 per cent increase in fatalities on the road this year – and that was before the Christmas period even started.

So is it time to get really tough on those who deliberately put their lives and everyone else’s at risk on the road?

Australia has put in a lot of hard work over the past few decades to see a steady drop in the number of fatalities on our roads.

But it seems this year people weren’t listening to the warnings.

Chief executive of the Australian Automobile Association, Michael Bradley, says many drivers are ignoring the messages no to drink, text, or speed while driving and are putting others at risk.

“We’ve seen 40 years of declining road deaths, introductions of RBT, introductions of speed cameras, introductions of seat belts,” he told the ABC.

“These are things which have really driven down the number of Australians being killed.”

However, it seems something was lost in translation this year with fatalities going up.

“We can’t tell you what’s driving that, but it’s something which has everyone very concerned after many decades of good work,” Mr Bradley said.

So do we need harsher penalties to scare people into driving safely?

Some have suggested increase fines and even jail time for those who drive dangerously, but others say we need to raise more awareness instead.

Some creative suggestions have been to take people who break the road rules around to different hospitals to see patients who have been injured in car accidents to scare them off doing it again.

With confronting ads on our TV already and billboards on the side of freeways telling us to ‘Stop, Revive and Survive’, will more awareness like this work or will it fall on deaf ears?

What do you think?

Should we have tougher laws for those who break the rules on our roads? Why do you think people are so willing to be careless while driving?

  1. Angela Tibbles  

    A major problem on the roads. So much time is spent on checking the speed one is going that one doesn’t have time to check how they are driving. There are so many variants in speeds on the one stretch of road throughout the country, that one has to keep checking the speedo.

    • Colin  

      If you are concentrating on driving it only takes a millisecond to check speedometer,
      Drivers should be aware of their surroundings normal speed limits, temporary speed limits
      Density of pedestrians etc At all times. All distractions from passengers, radio, mobile phones
      Should be ignored. Try going to the Rotary drivers awareness website you may learn that speed limits givea maximum safe limit not a challenge to achieve it.

  2. Franklyn  

    Those who smash into people, & buildings because they don’t know the difference between the brake, & the accelerator, should have their Driving Licence suspended immediately, & permanently.

    These usually ‘older’ drivers’ buy cars’ which are way too powerful for them to drive.

    Once a person turns 65, they should be forced to drive a manual car. At least with that, they’ve got ‘work to do’, by having to ‘change gears’.
    Would keep them alert, & manual cars’ are less powerful, usually.

    • roy batkin  

      Get a life franklin.

      • BygAuld Byrd  

        Wait until you are 65 Franklin and see if you like being forced to drive a manual car. Having to change gears is simply a further distraction.

        Better we get fully autonomous vehicles in which we just tell it where we want to go and let the car take us there without a person intervening.

        • Franklyn  

          Hey BAB, smarta@&$, I’ve been driving a manual-geared car for decades’, so it wouldn’t be a problem for me!
          The gear movements are simple, & one doesn’t have to ‘think’ about them!

          At least I’ve never run into a person, car, or building!
          Can tell difference between brake, & accelerator, too!

          BTW, you spelt my name incorrectly, moron!

          • James Frost  

            Far more crashes are from young hoons who think they’re invincible.

          • Niel  

            Why worry about the way your your name is spelt sonny . By gee you are one smart driver Franklin

      • Franklyn  

        BATkin, how about you spell my name as I wrote it?
        Not difficult to do.

        And I believe, with your low IQ, I’ve a much better life than YOU!

    • billwalker  

      Sweden has almost zero drunk drivers. They have a law that the fine is a percentage of your total ‘net worth’. So they don’t have any ‘Alice Waltons’ , because the fine could be in the BILLIONS.

    • Niel  

      Hi you must be nuts . Don’t worry about the older drivers they don’t cause or have as many accidents as people around your age Franklyn . You are never going to stop road accidents as drivers are always in a hurry and that is what causes a lot of these crashes . So think before you mouth off about the elderly boy.

  3. Mark  

    I see part of the problem,at least in Qld, is the state of the roads. More and more cars are using the roads, however the road builders seem to wait until the roads are so packed that they have to upgrade them and then they start widening/adding lanes to a road that is already unable to carry the traffic. This upgrading takes years to do and all the time there are roadworks speed limits imposed, not just to give the road workers a safe workplace, because these limits apply 24/7 even if nobody is working and the road is upgraded to a better standard than before it was started even though it is not finished. Take this along with the fat that most people are time poor and you have a recipe for disaster that could have been avoided with a little foresight in undertaking the new work before it was necessary.

    • graham  

      Can’t blame conditions because learner drivers are taught to modify driving to suit coditions. If every other driver is doing a certain speed you stay with the traffic.

  4. Colin  

    Driving regularly as a volunteer in a public service transporting people in need, I see so many drivers who show no consideration to other road users. Sure we all make minor lapses in attention but many drivers are only concentrating on how quickly they can do their own thing when they get to their destination or the conversation with their friends, their mobile phone or music.
    Yes the police should stop drivers more often for driving without due care and attention. Three strikes and your licence is suspended until you undertake a driver awareness programme

  5. graham  

    People who lose there liscence should not be allowed to own a registered vehicle and a hefty fine for anyone who allows them to drive their vehicle while suspended. To get back a liscence after suspension they should pass a writen test minimum. I see road rules broken every day that can cause accidents even by drivers i am a passeger with.

    • Why can’t you spell the words’ you type correctly, AND use correct Gramnar!
      Didn’t you go to School?

      ……’Licence’…..
      …….’written’…..
      …….’their’……..
      …….’whilst suspended’…….
      …….’drivers with whom I’m a passenger’……
      ……..’I’………

  6. TP  

    This bugs me with the wording of the death toll
    No one has mentioned the drug problem
    1 in 9 drivers on our roads are on drugs

    • Jane  

      ………and the majority of the rest are drunk……..

      • desleigh clarke  

        You nailed it – bloody idiots killing innocent people.

  7. I do believe that for speeding, fines need to be much higher and if a driver is continuing to exceed the speed limit, then the driver needs to go back to L plates and relearn how to drive and has to pass a driving test and have P plates and go through this process each time. For drink driving, or under the influence, cancel the driver’s licence, impound the vehicle immediately and auction it. If the driver does not own the car, too bad. Vehicle owners aught to be more careful who they allow to drive their vehicle. Money raised from auctions will help re educate drivers, or make roads safer.
    Causing death from reckless driving and or driving under the influence needs to carry a murder charge and at least 10 -20 years in prison. Perhaps the age of getting a driver’s licence needs to be raised to18 years in Australia, because of the disregard young drivers have towards the traffic laws. I would like for the age of adulthood to be risen to 21 years as it used to be. There seems to be an immaturity among young adults across Australia. If young people want adult priveliges, they need to behave in a more adult manner. At the age of 18 years, a person has not had the full brain development to truely understand cause and effect. They need to be of adult maturity to be able to be accountable for their decision making.

    • Marjorie  

      Male’s ‘brains’ don’t mature, apparently, until they’re 28.
      Enough said…………

  8. Alcohol is an addictive drug….it is just one that is legally obtained by people over the age of 18 years. I would like for it to be less available and restrictions on how much can be purchased. People in Australia are not responsible with this drug. Personally I would like for there to be a total ban on it and tobacco. Both are harmful to health of user and others and both have no benefit at all.

  9. Norm in Ngunnawal Country  

    Harsher penalties are a waste of time.
    we need better driver education.
    maybe regular updates. i think I am out-of-date with a few new rules.

  10. Arun s  

    Harsher penalties is probably not the only answer. That’s basically just reactive instead of being proactive as well. Stricter driver tests and longer waiting periods as is the case in some countries now. The open road is the one place total strangers come together on a daily basis. Driving is the one most responsible function you will perform in your life.
    I consider driving to be a group activity since you’re not out there on the roadway by yourself. In other words it’s not your private driveway. Good driving etiquette and habits must be learned from a young age or else it’s pretty pathetic. Consider the ‘cracker jax’ box driver license.
    Come on! So many people don’t have a clue how to bring a vehicle to a safe stop if it suddenly accelerates on its own. There have been so many tragic instances, it’s ridiculously pathetic!
    It’s called ‘sudden runaway acceleration’. It can happen for numerous different reasons, but there’s only ONE solution. PUT IT IN NEUTRAL first, then hit the brakes. In fact I propose vehicle manufacturers would do well to put a flashing light on the dash (a sign telling them to engage ‘N’ for neutral, if vehicle suddenly accelerates. Toyota for one would have saved so many lives and lawsuits if they had done it. I also propose audio/visual traffic light systems, since human perception is basically audio/visual and not just visual only.
    Even wrong way drivers, especially on freeways must be stopped. A flash of intense light from a camera mounted at off ramp that senses opposite direction travel would disable driver. That ought to stop rogue vehicle in its tracks, period! If cameras are too expensive then a sensor cable inche under the asphalt where some people suggested spikes (not feasible for faster than garage entrance speeds) would do the same thing if wired to the blinding light.
    Cheers! G’Luck!

    • Bruce  

      There is no such thing as “sudden runaway acceleration”. There is not a car made where the accelerator can override the brake. Let me repeat that: THERE IS NOT A CAR MADE WHERE THE ACCELERATOR CAN OVERRIDE THE BRAKE!.The problem is with drivers putting their foot on the wrong pedal!

  11. Robin Henry  

    As a one-time traffic accident investigator and police officer (Queensland), I know that there are people who have a propensity to collide (for reasons not always evident). Many of these people can be identified early in their driving careers and should be, as part of any penalty, mandated to do a defensive driving course.

    Defensive driving courses provide drivers with skid control training, rules about following other vehicles, risk minimisation and even mechanical topics like tyre maintenance and pressure etc.

    If this remedial action doesn’t work, then we should perhaps look at a lifetime ban from driving as driving is said to be a privilege and not a right. Three major strikes and you’re out. Drive while disqualified and mandatory six months detention. Perhaps have your vehicle crushed. There are a few options.

    The penalty for dangerous driving causing death when I was in the police force was a maximum of five years but few were ever given the maximum. There was also a considerable misunderstanding by the public of the elements of dangerous driving and how a death couldn’t be prima facie evidence that the driving was dangerous.

    What is compounding the problem today is the presence of drugs that seem to be endemic in most communities. These weren’t such a problem during my time in the police force but could be a significant factor in today’s traffic incident statistics.

    • Jeremy  

      It should be mandatory doing a DDC, immediately after Licence granted.
      I did one, & what I learnt many decades’ ago, is still with me.

      The best sentence uttered by the Instructor, was ‘expect the unexpected when driving’.
      I’ve driven by this tenet, & it’s proved to be such a good ‘rule’ to drive by!

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