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Hooning offenders and offences: Who and what are we dealing with?

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Abstract

Street racing and associated (hooning) behaviours have attracted growing community concern in Australia, and internationally, over recent years. Governments have responded by introducing legislation designed to address the behaviours, and allocating significant police resources to managing the problem. All Australian states and territories, and New Zealand, have now implemented “anti-hooning” countermeasures, typically involving impounding the vehicles of offenders for increasing periods of time for subsequent offences, ultimately leading to forfeiture of the vehicle. For example, among other sanctions imposed, the vehicles of drivers charged with an offence under this legislation in Queensland are impounded for 48 hours for a first offence, three months after a second offence within three years, and may be forfeited to the state after a third offence within three years. Since the introduction of the legislation in November 2002 and until the end of 2006, 3,221 vehicles have been impounded for a period of 48 hours. A small number of vehicles have been impounded for a second (72, 2.2%), third (4, 0.1%) or fourth (1, 0.03%) hooning offence. Although most hooning offenders are young males, a group known to be over-represented in crash statistics, hooning offenders have not been profiled in a systematic way, and the possibility that sub-groups of drivers exist has not been explored. This paper aims to address these research needs to inform future research and management of "anti-hooning" legislation.
Leal, Nerida L. and Watson, Barry C. and King, Mark (2007) Hooning
offenders and offences: Who and what are we dealing with?. In
Proceedings Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education
Conference, Melbourne, Australia.
This is the author-manuscript version of this work - accessed from
http://eprints.qut.edu.au
Copyright 2007 (please contact authors)
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Hooning offenders and offences: Who and what are we dealing with?
Nerida Leal, Barry Watson & Mark King
Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q)
ABSTRACT
Street racing and associated (hooning) behaviours have attracted growing
community concern in Australia, and internationally, over recent years.
Governments have responded by introducing legislation designed to address
the behaviours, and allocating significant police resources to managing the
problem. All Australian states and territories, and New Zealand, have now
implemented “anti-hooning” countermeasures, typically involving impounding
the vehicles of offenders for increasing periods of time for subsequent offences,
ultimately leading to forfeiture of the vehicle. For example, among other
sanctions imposed, the vehicles of drivers charged with an offence under this
legislation in Queensland are impounded for 48 hours for a first offence, three
months after a second offence within three years, and may be forfeited to the
state after a third offence within three years. Since the introduction of the
legislation in November 2002 and until the end of 2006, 3,221 vehicles have
been impounded for a period of 48 hours. A small number of vehicles have
been impounded for a second (72, 2.2%), third (4, 0.1%) or fourth (1, 0.03%)
hooning offence. Although most hooning offenders are young males, a group
known to be over-represented in crash statistics, hooning offenders have not
been profiled in a systematic way, and the possibility that sub-groups of drivers
exist has not been explored. This paper aims to address these research needs
to inform future research and management of “anti-hooning” legislation.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This research is supported by the Queensland Government’s Growing the Smart State PhD
Funding Program and may be used to assist public policy development. However, the opinions
and information contained in the research do not necessarily represent the opinions of the
Queensland Government or carry any endorsement by the Queensland Government. The
Queensland Government accepts no responsibility for decisions or actions resulting from any
opinions or information supplied. The authors also wish to acknowledge the support of the Motor
Accident Insurance Commission, Queensland University of Technology’s Institute of Health and
Biomedical Innovation, Queensland Police Service and Queensland Transport.
2
INTRODUCTION
Illegal street racing has received significant negative media attention in recent
years, reflecting general public concern (Glensor & Peak, 2005; Knight, Cook, &
Olson, 2004; Peak & Glensor, 2004; Vaaranen, 2004; Vaaranen & Wieloch,
2002; Warn, Tranter, & Kingham, 2004). For example, in an investigation
undertaken by the Canadian Road Safety Monitor, it was found that the majority
of respondents were concerned or extremely concerned about illegal street
racing, and considered it a serious problem (Beirness, Mayhew, Simpson, &
Desmond, 2004; Singhal, Simpson, Vanlaar, & Mayhew, 2006). From both a
popular culture and legislative point of view, it is important to note that “hooning”
in the Australian context encompasses a broader group of behaviours than
illegal street racing alone.
Defining “hooning”
There is no clear definition of hooning behaviours in the road safety literature.
This may be because terms such as “hoon” and “hooning” are Australian
colloquialisms, and prior to the implementation of “anti-hooning” legislation,
hooning was typically dealt with as a public amenity issue.
Over recent years, the term “hooning” has been used to refer to antisocial
driving behaviours such as illegal street racing, “burn outs”1, “donuts”2,
“drifting”3, unnecessary speed or acceleration, speed trials4 and even “cruising”5
(Knight et al., 2004; Peak & Glensor, 2004; Warn et al., 2004). Illegal street
racing may be highly organised or spontaneous in nature. Highly organised
races are typically staged at night in industrial areas (Warn et al., 2004), with
start and finish lines marked a quarter of a mile apart (the traditional distance for
drag races) (Leigh, 1996). Some groups use walkie-talkies and even police tape
1 A burn out is when the rear tyres of a vehicle are spun at high revolutions per minute until
they heat and smoke. More smoke is generated if the road surface has oil or petrol spills.
2 A donut is when the driver turns the front tyres until the steering is fully locked during a burn
out, so that the car rotates and a circular (donut) pattern of tread marks remains on the road
surface.
3 Drifting is when a vehicle slides sideways through a turn taken at high speed.
4 Speed trials are when the acceleration and top-speed capability of a vehicle and / or the skill
of its driver are tested, usually on a straight stretch of road of a set distance. Speed trials also
include attempts to establish or break records.
5 Cruising refers to non-purposeful repetitive driving, where groups of vehicles slowly drive
around an area to exhibit their vehicles.
3
and false signs to block the traffic for the duration of the race (Vaaranen &
Wieloch, 2002). Others may use rolling road blocks6 to stage a race in the
middle of a highway or other large multi-laned road. Spontaneous illegal street
racing refers to impromptu, one-time races between persons who do not know
one another (Peak & Glensor, 2004). For example, drivers stopped at traffic
signals on a straight stretch of a double-laned road may race, with the traffic
signals providing a starting signal (Warn et al., 2004).
The label of “hoon” is sometimes applied to car enthusiasts, drivers of modified
vehicles, or to young drivers in general. The Centre for Accident Research and
Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q) recently completed a qualitative
exploratory study to examine the experiences and thoughts of local car
enthusiasts who are typically associated with street racing, hooning or cruising
activities (Armstrong & Steinhardt, 2005). Participants in this research stated
that those involved in the car enthusiast scene are not a homogeneous group,
as there are a number of sub-groups, of which only some are truly dangerous.
They argued that young car enthusiasts who drive the most noticeable or
“showy” vehicles are often misclassified as hoons by police and the general
public, when the reality is that drivers who engage in hooning behaviours can
be anyone in any vehicle (Armstrong & Steinhardt, 2005). Thus given the
widespread use of the terms “hoon” and “hooning”, and the potential for
misclassification of involved drivers, it is important that researchers clearly
define the behaviours under investigation.
In lieu of a commonly accepted definition in the road safety literature, an
alternative method of defining hooning behaviours is to adopt a legislative
definition. All Australian states and territories, and New Zealand, have now
implemented “anti-hooning” countermeasures, typically involving impounding
the vehicles of offenders for increasing periods of time for subsequent offences,
ultimately leading to forfeiture of the vehicle. For example, in response to a
growing number of community complaints regarding street racing, “burn outs”
6 Rolling road blocks refer to the practice of a large number of vehicles travelling as a convoy
across all lanes of a road, slowing or blocking the progress of other vehicles until a clear “race-
track” is created for some distance ahead.
4
and other “hooning” behaviours, and the potential for serious injury,
Queensland’s Police Powers and Responsibilities Act was amended to give
police the power to impound the vehicles of drivers committing prescribed
hooning offences. These include: dangerous operation of a motor vehicle;
careless driving of a motor vehicle; racing and speed trials on roads; and wilfully
starting a vehicle, or driving a vehicle, in a way that makes unnecessary noise
or smoke. Among other sanctions imposed (including fines, demerit points, and
licence disqualification), the vehicles of drivers charged with an offence under
Queensland’s “anti-hooning” legislation are impounded for 48 hours for a first
offence, three months after a second offence within three years, and it is
forfeited to the state after a third offence within three years. Unless otherwise
stated, the term “hooning” in this paper will refer to this group of behaviours.
Who is involved in the street racing or “hooning” scene?
The available evidence suggests that it is predominantly young (age 16 to 25)
males involved in the illegal street racing scene (Leigh, 1996; Peak & Glensor,
2004; Vaaranen & Wieloch, 2002; Warn et al., 2004), however the number of
females attending events is increasing (Armstrong & Steinhardt, 2005). It
appears that these are transitory activities, as most people do not continue to
participate for more than two or three years (Leigh, 1996). Leigh (1996) reports
that drivers in the Sydney street racing scene are predominantly Anglo-Saxon,
and most are employed on a full-time basis as mechanics or in other trades,
while others are involved in full-time education at high school or TAFE
(Technical and Further Education) Colleges (Leigh, 1996). This group shows
higher participation in employment and education than their peers, and it is
suggested that this may be because street racing is an expensive enterprise.
Some respondents had spent $10,000 to $25,000 on their vehicles, and several
thousand dollars in fines for traffic offences and vehicle defect notices (Leigh,
1996). This is in contrast to the Helsinki street racing scene, where “cruising
club” boys were typically from working class families, had rarely completed
secondary school, and took low-paying factory and construction jobs to finance
their interest in cars (Vaaranen, 2004).
5
Drivers involved in hooning have been described in the Australian media as
young males who drive high performance or “souped-up” cars, rev big engines,
play loud music, and travel with groups of “testosterone-addled chums” (e.g.,
Altman, 2006; Johnson, 2007; Penberthy, 2004; Russell & Cooke, 2006).
Aim
Although some research has profiled illegal street racers, hooning in an
Australian context encompasses a broader group of behaviours than street
racing alone. Thus there is a need to profile hooning offenders and offences in a
systematic way. The aim of this paper is to profile a sample of Queensland
hooning offenders and offences in order to describe the nature of the problem,
and inform future research and policy with an empirical evidence base.
METHOD
Sample
Since the implementation of Queensland’s “anti-hooning” legislation on
November 4, 2002 (and until the end of December, 2006), 3,221 vehicles have
been impounded (L.-M. Folkman, personal communication, February 6, 2007).
However, the drivers of these vehicles are difficult to identify in official datasets.
While a number of offence codes can be used for the prescribed behaviours
identified as hooning offences, these offences are not unique to the hooning
legislation. For example, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle does not
always indicate that the offender committed a hooning offence, and can be
applied in other instances, such as after a road traffic crash, or in conjunction
with a drink driving offence. This means that identifying hooning offenders in
official datasets is not as simple as searching for a particular offence code.
To allow police officers to quickly identify whether a hooning offence was the
first, second or third for a particular driver, from July 1, 2005 “hooning
identifiers” were added to hooning offences when they were entered into the
CRISP (Crime Reporting Information System for Police) database. As a
consequence, for this research it was only possible to identify hooning offenders
with these identifiers (i.e., all offenders from July 1, 2005 until the extraction
date of October 1, 2006). This resulted in a sample of 967 hooning offenders
6
who were involved in 983 hooning offences. Although this sample is one third
that of the total population, as all offenders from July 1, 2005 are included in the
sample, there is no reason to expect any systematic sampling bias is present.
Data
After obtaining ethical approval from the Queensland University of Technology
Human Research Ethics Committee, an application to conduct external
research with the Queensland Police Service (QPS) was submitted and
approved. QPS provided a de-identified data file for the sample of hooning
offences described above. A unique code was created by QPS for each
individual in the file to allow the researchers to identify individuals with more
than one offence during the 15-month period.
The variables relating to hooning offenders analysed for the purposes of this
paper included: offender gender; offender age; racial appearance [as judged by
attending police officer]; and occupation [occupation was later recoded by the
researchers according to the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations
(2nd edition) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1997)]. Analysed fields relating to
the offence included: description; day; offence scene [e.g., street, shopping
area]; and modus operandi7. Analysed fields relating to the vehicle included:
type; make; year of manufacture; and registration status [e.g., registered to
driver; stolen].
RESULTS
Hooning offenders
Table 1 shows that, consistent with previous illegal street racing research, the
sample of hooning offenders primarily consisted of young (aged under 25 years;
76.9%), Caucasian (90.7%), males (97.3%). In terms of occupation (where
known), the most common major codes among hooning offenders were
tradespersons and related workers, not working, and labourers and related
workers. These three groups accounted for more than three quarters of hooning
offenders for whom occupation was known.
7 The modus operandi field outlines the reporting police officer’s description of the offence.
7
Table 1. Demographic characteristics of hooning offenders (N = 967)
Characteristic Number Percentage8
Gender
Male 941 97.3
Female 26 2.7
Age
13 – 16 years 17 1.8
17 – 20 years 491 50.8
21 – 24 years 236 24.4
25 – 29 years 121 12.5
30 – 39 years 74 7.7
40 – 49 years 22 2.3
50 – 59 years 3 0.3
60 – 69 years 2 0.2
70 – 79 years 1 0.1
Racial Appearance
Caucasian 873 90.7
European 27 2.8
Aboriginal 21 2.2
Pacific Islander 18 1.9
South East Asian 13 1.3
Oriental Asian 4 0.4
Indian 3 0.3
Middle Eastern 3 0.3
Other 1 0.1
Unknown 4
Occupation – Major Code9
Tradespersons and related workers 195 32.7
Not working 161 27.0
Labourers and related workers 93 15.6
Intermediate production and transport workers 66 11.1
Elementary clerical, sales and service workers 27 4.5
Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers 20 3.4
Associate professionals 14 2.3
Professionals 11 1.8
Self-employed 7 1.2
Managers and administrators 1 0.2
Advanced clerical and service workers 1 0.2
Unknown 371
8 Percentages were calculated using the total number of cases where the characteristic was
known as the denominator.
9 Two additional codes were created by the researchers: “Not working” (unemployed, student,
pension, and retired); and “Self-employed” (self-employed, owner/operator, business owner).
8
Tradespersons and related workers included occupations such as automotive
tradespersons (n = 59); structural construction tradespersons (n = 32),
mechanical engineering tradespersons (n = 20) and fabrication engineering
tradespersons (n = 19). Not working was created by the researchers and
included categories such as unemployed (n = 113) and students (n = 42).
Labourers and related workers included occupations such as process workers
(n = 15), mining and construction labourers (n = 11), and cleaners (n = 9).
Hooning offences
Table 2 shows that most hooning offences involved causing unnecessary noise
or smoke (e.g., burn outs, donuts, fish tails; 66.9%), while engaging in an illegal
street race or conducting a speed trial accounted for one fifth of all offences
(19.4%). Hooning offences primarily occurred between Thursday and Sunday
(although this may reflect enforcement; 76.9%), and on public streets (95.4%).
Table 2. Characteristics of hooning offences (N = 983)
Characteristic Number Percentage
Offence Description10
Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle 167 17.0
Careless driving of a motor vehicle 138 14.0
Racing and speed trials on roads 191 19.4
Wilfully starting or driving a vehicle in a way
that causes unnecessary noise or smoke 658 66.9
Day of Week
Monday 69 7.0
Tuesday 72 7.3
Wednesday 86 8.7
Thursday 169 17.2
Friday 202 20.5
Saturday 207 21.1
Sunday 178 18.1
Offence Scene
Street 938 95.4
Shopping area 18 1.8
Recreational area 6 0.6
Other 21 2.1
10 Percentages for offence descriptions sum to more than 100% as more than one offence code
may be applied to an incident.
9
As can be seen in Table 3, more than one third of vehicles involved in hooning
offences were not registered to the offender (35.5%).
Table 3. Characteristics of vehicles used in hooning offences (N = 983)
Characteristic Number Percentage11
Registration Status
Registered to offender 604 64.5
Not registered to offender 256 27.3
Unregistered 31 3.3
False registration plates 19 2.0
Commercial 15 1.6
Stolen 12 1.3
Unknown 46
Vehicle Type
Car / station wagon 765 80.5
Utility / panel van 145 15.3
Motorcycle 26 2.7
4WD 13 1.4
Rigid truck 1 0.1
Unknown 33
Vehicle Make
Holden 449 47.4
Ford 156 16.5
Nissan 122 12.9
Toyota 84 8.9
Mitsubishi 29 3.1
Mazda 22 2.3
Honda 19 2.0
Subaru 17 1.8
Hyundai 12 1.3
Other 37 3.9
Unknown 36
Vehicle Year of Manufacture
2002 – 2006 112 12.3
1997 – 2001 166 18.2
1992 – 1996 252 27.6
1987 – 1991 210 23.0
1982 – 1986 98 10.7
1981 and earlier 76 8.3
Unknown 69
11 Percentages were calculated using the total number of cases where the characteristic was
known as the denominator.
10
Almost two thirds of vehicles involved in hooning offences were Holdens or
Fords (63.9%). Although these are the most common two makes of vehicles on
Australian roads according to the Motor Vehicle Census (Australian Bureau of
Statistics, 2004), Holdens are over-represented in hooning offences (47.4% vs.
19.1%). Similarly, Nissans are driven in 12.9 percent of hooning offences, but
make up only 6.9 percent of registered vehicles in Australia (Australian Bureau
of Statistics, 2004). Given the perception that hooning involves high-powered or
“souped-up” vehicles, and vehicle power restrictions imposed under Graduated
Driver Licensing programs in many Australian jurisdictions, analysis of the
power specifications or engine capacity of these vehicles was of interest.
However, this information was not available for all offences.
Approximately half of the vehicles involved in hooning offences were 10 to 20
years old (50.5%). In both Queensland and Australia, the average age of
registered passenger vehicles is 10.0 years, while for all registered vehicles the
average age is 10.3 years (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2004).
“Typical” versus “atypical” offender comparisons
Although the sample of female hooning offenders was small (n = 26), any
differences between these drivers and the more “typical” male hooning offender
were of interest to the researchers. In addition to significant gender differences
in occupation (χ2 = 40.81, p < .001), the vehicles driven by females during the
hooning offence differed to those driven by males (χ2 = 11.29, p = .02), as most
female offenders (88.0%) were driving a car / station wagon and were less likely
than their males counterparts to be driving other vehicle types. An interesting
finding was that there were also significant gender differences in registration
status (χ2 = 23.14, p = .001), as females were less likely than males to be
driving a vehicle registered to them (23.1% vs. 62.8%).
Similarly, the characteristics of “young” hooning offenders (under 25, n = 744)
and offences were compared to those of drivers aged 25 and over (n = 223). In
addition to significant age differences in occupation (χ2 = 39.39, p < .001),
young drivers were more likely than drivers aged 25 and over to have driving
without due care or attention offences (χ2 = 5.58, p = .02). The vehicles driven
11
by young drivers during the hooning offence differed to those driven by drivers
aged 25 and over (χ2 = 23.18, p < .001), as drivers aged 25 and over were more
likely to be riding a motorcycle than young drivers (7.0% vs. 1.5%). Drivers
aged 25 and over were significantly more likely than young drivers to be driving
a new vehicle (manufactured in previous 5 years; χ2 = 25.19, p < .001; 18.6%
vs. 10.4%).
The characteristics of offenders who wilfully caused unnecessary noise or
smoke (n = 634) were compared to those who engaged in illegal street racing or
speed trials on roads (n = 176)12. Drivers who engaged in illegal street racing or
speed trials were less likely to be Caucasian than those who wilfully caused
unnecessary noise or smoke (χ2 = 39.54, p < .001, 84.6% vs. 94.2%). In terms
of the vehicle driven during the offence, there were significant differences
between offences (χ2 = 131.57, p < .001), as the proportions of Holdens (35.5%
vs. 53.2%) and Fords (11.0% vs. 17.9%) were lower for racing offences, where
drivers were more likely than those who created unnecessary noise or smoke to
be driving Nissans (19.2% vs. 11.5%), Subarus (5.8% vs. 0.3%) and Hondas
(5.8% vs. 0.5%). Vehicles used in illegal street races and speed trials were
manufactured more recently than those used to wilfully cause unnecessary
noise or smoke, t(300) = -4.62, p < .001.
DISCUSSION
The aim of this paper was to profile hooning offenders and offences in order to
describe the nature of the hooning problem in Queensland. Analysis of a
sample of 967 hooning offenders revealed that, consistent with previous illegal
street racing research, these drivers tend to be young, Caucasian males. This
may suggest that hooning could be viewed as part of the mainstream young
driver problem (Leal, Watson, Armstrong, & King, 2007). However, the finding
that almost one quarter of hooning offenders are aged over 25 is in contrast to
the popular belief that all hooning offenders are young drivers. While there were
few differences between older and younger hooning offenders in the
characteristics analysed for this research, the significant proportion of drivers
12 Drivers who had both offences were excluded from the analysis.
12
aged 25 and over highlights the importance of exploring the possibility that
hooning offenders are not a homogeneous group.
In contrast to the types of vehicles in movies such as The Fast and the Furious
series, hooning offences need not occur in modified street machines, but occur
in common vehicles such as Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons. However,
the proportion of vehicles from the Nissan Sylvia and Skyline range are more
consistent with the stereotypical “hoon” car, and were more common for racing
and speed trial offences than those involving behaviours such as burn outs.
The finding that approximately one fifth of hooning offences involved illegal
street racing or speed trials further illustrates the difference between hooning in
an Australian context and the available illegal street racing literature. The
differences between offenders and offences involving illegal street racing or
speed trials and those involving wilfully causing unnecessary noise or smoke
further illustrate the importance of exploring sub-groups of hooning offenders
and offences. There are significant differences between the natures of these
behaviours, and there are therefore likely to be differences in the associated
road safety implications.
For example, it may be argued that only illegal street racing or speed trial
offences that pose a road safety risk, due to the speeds attained by involved
vehicles, while hooning offences involving unnecessary noise or smoke are
better considered a public amenity issue. However, concurrent hooning
offences (i.e., dangerous operation of a motor vehicle) are common. Further,
there are considerable potential risks to the hooning driver, passengers,
bystanders, and property depending on the context or location of unnecessary
noise or smoke offences, as these offences involve a vehicle that has lost
traction with the road surface and is essentially out of the driver’s control.
Implications and future directions
The finding that vehicles involved in hooning offences are 10 to 20 years old,
which is older than the average car on the road, may have implications for the
deterrent effect of vehicle sanctions, as these vehicles may be low in financial
13
value. The finding that more than one third of vehicles used in hooning offences
are not registered to the offender also has implications for the deterrent effect of
vehicle sanctions, as these may not be applied to these drivers. It is possible
that drivers purposely have their vehicles registered in another person’s name
to avoid such sanctions.
These issues may be more relevant to some sub-groups of hooning offenders
than others. For example, the small number of females in this sample were less
likely to be detected hooning in a vehicle registered in their name, which may
suggest that the threat of vehicle impoundment would not be as salient for
females as for males. Young drivers tended to be in older vehicles, which are
presumably lower in value than newer vehicles driven by older drivers. This may
impact on the deterrent effect of the threat of vehicle impoundment or forfeiture.
Similarly, the differences in the makes and manufacturing year of vehicles used
in illegal street racing or speed trial offences compared to those used in
unnecessary noise or smoke offences may result in differences in the
perceptions of the severity of sanctions.
In terms of future research directions, there is a need to further explore the road
safety implications of hooning behaviours through analysis of traffic and crash
histories of hooning offenders, and comparisons between the crash involvement
of hooning offenders and other known high-risk groups, including drink drivers,
unlicensed drivers and young drivers generally. It may be useful and more
meaningful from a road safety perspective to examine the risks associated with
the different types of hooning offences separately. Finally, the ongoing
enhancement of crash and hooning offence data collection practices will allow
further research into the nature of the hooning problem, and facilitate
comprehensive evaluations of current approaches to dealing with the problem.
14
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Paper presented at the 27th Australasian Transport Research Forum,
Adelaide, Australia.
... A small proportion (n = 103, 1.86%) were held for three months for a second offense, while 13 were eligible for permanent forfeiture to the state for third (n = 11, 0.20%) and fourth (n = 2, 0.04%) offenses (Queensland Police Service, unpublished data). These drivers are typically young males [4], consistent with international trends [3,56789, and these offenses primarily occurred on weekends. However, only about one fifth of these offenses involved illegal street racing or speed trials on roads [4], which may indicate that illegal street racing is less common than the other behaviors addressed by Queensland legislation, or that the other offenses are easier for police to detect. ...
... These drivers are typically young males [4], consistent with international trends [3,56789, and these offenses primarily occurred on weekends. However, only about one fifth of these offenses involved illegal street racing or speed trials on roads [4], which may indicate that illegal street racing is less common than the other behaviors addressed by Queensland legislation, or that the other offenses are easier for police to detect. While illegal street racing can be considered a socially problematic behavior [5], a number of specific potential harms caused by street racing have also been identified, including: crashes; noise (from racing vehicles and crowds); vandalism and litter at racing locations (including businesses where racers commonly gather); loss of commercial revenue (if racing crowds obstruct or intimidate potential customers); and excess wear and tear on public streets (painted street markings are commonly damaged by the burning rubber of vehicle tires) [6]. ...
... This approach allows the risk of the drivers to be explored, to complement existing research exploring the risk associated with the behavior. As most street racing offenders are young males [4], a group known to be over-represented in crashes, comparing them to a group of young males who do not engage in street racing allows researchers to explore whether the risk of street racing is significant over and above the young driver problem. This paper reports on a study using such an approach. ...
Article
Full-text available
Illegal street racing has received increased attention in recent years from road safety professionals and the media as jurisdictions in Australia, Canada, and the United States have implemented laws to address the problem, which primarily involves young male drivers. Although some evidence suggests that the prevalence of illegal street racing is increasing, obtaining accurate estimates of the crash risk of this behavior is difficult because of limitations in official data sources. Although crash risk can be explored by examining the proportion of incidents of street racing that result in crashes, or the proportion of all crashes that involve street racing, this paper reports on the findings of a study that explored the riskiness of involved drivers. The driving histories of 183 male drivers with an illegal street racing conviction in Queensland, Australia, were compared with a random sample of 183 male Queensland drivers with the same age distribution. The offender group was found to have significantly more traffic infringements, license sanctions, and crashes than the comparison group. Drivers in the offender group were more likely than the comparison group to have committed infringements related to street racing, such as speeding, "hooning," and offenses related to vehicle defects or illegal modifications. Insufficient statistical capacity prevented full exploration of group differences in the type and nature of earlier crashes. It was concluded, however, that street racing offenders generally can be considered risky drivers who warrant attention and whose risky behavior cannot be explained by their youth alone.
... Risky driving behaviour, in general, has been associated with sociodemographic, personality and attitudinal variables. The available evidence on risky drivers indicates that they are predominantly young and male (Gee Kee, Palk, & Steinhardt, 2007;Krahé & Fenske, 2002;Leal, 2010;Leal, Watson, & King, 2007;Palk et al., 2011;Patil, Shope, Raghunathan, & Bingham, 2006;Thake, Armstrong, & Leal, 2011;Vingilis et al., 2011). Among personality characteristics, thrill, sensation or risk seeking propensity has consistently been associated with risky driving (e.g., Arnett, 1996;Arnett et al., 1997;Burns & Wilde, 1995;Clément & Jonah, 1984;Dahlen, Martin, Ragan, & Kuhlman, 2005;Donovan & Jessor, 1985;Fernandes, Soames Job, & Hatfield, 2007;Jonah, 1997). ...
... Arnett, 1996; Arnett et al., 1997;Dahlen et al., 2005;Jonah, 1997;Ulleberg & Rundmo, 2003), although only a few studies have specifically examined stunt driving (e.g. Leal et al., 2007;Palk et al., 2011;Thake et al., 2011;Tranter & Warn, 2008). Although an age effect was found in block 1, the personality variables subsumed the age effect on the likelihood of stunt driving. ...
... A recent study compared the complete driving histories of drivers involved in illegal street racing offences to those of an age and gender matched comparison group (Leal et al., 2010b). While this research found that illegal street racing offenders had significantly more traffic offences, licence sanctions and crashes than the comparison group, suggesting they are a problematic group that warrant special attention, it is important to note that illegal street racing represents only one fifth of these risky driving offences in Queensland (Leal et al., 2007). While the focus on illegal street racing may be more relevant in an international context than the group of behaviours in Australian jurisdictions that are the subject of this paper, legislation targeting similar types of risky driving behaviours is emerging in North American jurisdictions. ...
... The final field was modus operandi, and included a description of the offence by the reporting police officer. It was in this final field that some offence descriptions included descriptions of crashes, and that forms 4 The existing literature suggests that drivers who engage in illegal street racing and associated risky driving behaviours are predominantly young males (Leal et al., 2007;Leigh, 1996;Peak & Glensor, 2004;Vaaranen & Wieloch, 2002;Warn, Tranter, & Kingham, 2004), a group known to be over-represented in crashes. This means that comparing drivers who engage in these behaviours with a group of young males allows researchers to explore whether the risk of the behaviours is significant over and above the young driver problem. ...
Article
The purpose of this study was to explore the road safety implications of illegal street racing and associated risky driving behaviours. This issue was considered in two ways: Phase 1 examined the descriptions of 848 illegal street racing and associated risky driving offences that occurred in Queensland, Australia, in order to estimate the risk associated with these behaviours; and Phase 2 examined the traffic and crash histories of the 802 male offenders involved in these offences, and compared them to those of an age-matched comparison group, in order to examine the risk associated with the driver. It was found in Phase 1 that only 3.7% of these offences resulted in a crash (none of which were fatal), and that these crashes tended to be single-vehicle crashes where the driver lost control of the vehicle and collided with a fixed object. Phase 2 found that the offender sample had significantly more traffic infringements, licence sanctions and crashes in the previous three years than the comparison group. It was concluded that while only a small proportion of racing and associated offences result in a crash, these offenders appear to be generally risky drivers that warrant special attention.
... 3 10-12 November 2009, Sydney, New South Wales spontaneous in nature141516. The definition of hooning-related driving behaviours adopted in this study was consistent with previous studies in the program of research [17, 18], consisting of the prescribed offences under Queensland's " anti-hooning " legislation ( ...
Article
Full-text available
Traffic law enforcement is based on deterrence principles, whereby drivers control their behaviour in order to avoid an undesirable sanction. For “hooning”-related driving behaviours in Queensland, the driver’s vehicle can be impounded for 48 hours, 3 months, or permanently depending on the number of previous hooning offences. It is assumed that the threat of losing something of value, their vehicle, will discourage drivers from hooning. While official data shows that the rate of repeat offending is low, an in-depth understanding of the deterrent effects of these laws should involve qualitative research with targeted drivers. A sample of 22 drivers who reported engaging in hooning behaviours participated in focus group discussions about the vehicle impoundment laws as applied to hooning offences in Queensland. The findings suggested that deterrence theory alone cannot fully explain hooning behaviour, as participants reported hooning frequently, and intended to continue doing so, despite reporting that it is likely that they will be caught, and perceiving the vehicle impoundment laws to be extremely severe. The punishment avoidance aspect of deterrence theory appears important, as well as factors over and above legal issues, particularly social influences. A concerning finding was drivers’ willingness to flee from police in order to avoid losing their vehicle permanently for a third offence, despite acknowledging risks to their own safety and that of others. This paper discusses the study findings in terms of the implications for future research directions, enforcement practices and policy development for hooning and other traffic offences for which vehicle impoundment is applied.
Article
To review: (1) the extent and frequency of street racing and its consequences; (2) the characteristics of street racers; (3) explanatory theories for street racing; (4) the legal issues; and (5) the best methods of preventing street racing. Review of academic and other literature. Very limited official statistics are available on street racing offenses and related collisions, in part because of the different jurisdictional operational definitions of street racing and the ability of police to determine whether street racing was a contributing factor. Some data on prevalence of street racing have been captured through social surveys and they found that between 18.8 and 69.0 percent of young male drivers from various international jurisdictions have reported street racing. Moreover, street racing is found to be associated with other risky behaviors, substance abuse, and delinquent activities. The limited evidence available on street racing suggests that it has increased in the last decade. Street racing is a neglected research area and the time has come to examine the prevalence and causes of street racing and the effectiveness of various street racing countermeasures.
Article
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Street racing can take the form of spontaneous one-to-one racing or highly organised events, while "hooning" generally refers to activities such as burnouts or excessive acceleration. Recent media reports have highlighted the potential for fatalities or injuries and the public nuisance caused by these behaviours. Subsequently, formal "anti-hooning"legislation has been passed in four Australian states and New Zealand. In the last two years since the introduction of Queensland’s 'anti-hoon' legislation, over 1500 vehicles have been impounded and over 4100 disturbance complaints registered. Official Queensland police reports have registered 169 ‘hooning’ or racing crashes involving 12-24 year olds in the period 1999-2004. Current research suggests those involved are typically young males aged between 16 and 25. The current investigation used a combination of focus groups, e-mail responses and message board feedback to conduct an examination of the experiences and perceptions of young people in regards to ‘hooning’ behaviour and legislative reforms. It is proposed that the results can be used to inform existing legislation and the assist in the development of interventions from both a youth and Queensland Police Service perspective.
Article
Full-text available
The objective of this study was to determine the annual incidence of fatal motor vehicle crashes involving street racing and to describe the characteristics of these crashes compared to other fatal crashes in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System data for 1998-2001 were used for the analyses. There were 149 568 fatal crashes and 315 (0.21%) involved street racing and 399 fatalities occurred in these crashes. In contrast to other fatal crashes, street racing fatal crashes were more likely to occur on urban roadways and were nearly six times more likely to occur at travel speeds> or = 65 mph. Compared with other drivers involved in fatal crashes, street racers were more likely to be teenagers, male, and have previous crashes and driving violations. Street racing involves risky driving behaviors and warrants further attention.
Article
Reproduction of social class through culture has puzzled social scientists especially in the Nordic, advanced welfare states where social equality has been the official policy of governments for most of the postwar period. In the following article, I address this issue through the emotional experience of class that culminates in the weekend excesses of youths and even the street-racing scenes of Helsinki. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with eighteen- to twenty-four-year-old male street racers of Helsinki, I argue that stagnant class locations build on stunted ambition and feelings of injustice. The cultural performances and camaraderie of these like-minded racers support these youths’ public, carefree identities and subcultural careers. Instead of resisting exclusion, they conform to it, celebrating “a room of his own” where shared risk, craftsmanship, driving skill, and disregard of education prevail.
Article
Investigation into subcultures seems to be progressively vanishing from the landscape of cultural studies. Since the work of the Center of Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) in Birmingham in the 1970s and 1980s, we have seen the dramatic rise of virtual communities as mediated through ever- expanding global lines of communication ; in the field of social science, the practice of categorization has been increasingly criticized due to the influence of deconstructio nism; and somewhere between history and social thought there has been the gradual disappearance of class as a social construct. For example, when considering the relationship between gender and age within the field of criminology, James Messerschmidt has replaced the notion of 'class' with 'position in social structures' in his 1993 analyses on masculinities and crime. And in 1996, authors Jan Pakulski and Malcolm Waters went so far as to proclaim The Death of Class. As a result, identity as a topic of study has been increasingly represented as fluid and contextual, unbound by geographical space, relation to production, or social standing. This paper represents a revisit of the Birmingham approach to the study of subcultures in an investigation into the Finnish phenomenon of street racing; an underground practice of engineering, illegal racing of automobiles, and cruising on the streets of Helsinki. And true to the tradition of the CCCS, the subject is practiced as oppositional by young, working class males. To emphasize our revisit to the Birmingham approach, we use the notion of class, and define it by the criteria of education and occupational role. The Cruising Club boys spent 9 years in comprehensive school and 1 to 3 years
The Road Safety Monitor 2004: Young Drivers. Ontario, Canada: Traffic Injury Research Foundation
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Another smashing day with hoons
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Enhancing road safety for young drivers: How Graduated Driver Licensing initiatives can complement " anti-hooning " legislation
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Top up the tank with testosterone, mate. Independent Weekly
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Altman, C. (2006, January 15). Top up the tank with testosterone, mate. Independent Weekly, p. 3.
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