Thursday, January 21, 2010

A cruel example of the "limitations of law"

The state of Victoria has a higher population than NZ but fewer road fatalities. Last year they had a record low in road deaths.

But a terrible accident at the weekend killed five young people. Typical aspects all present. Young, male driver. Limited licence requirements flouted. High speed. Alcohol.

STEVEN Johnstone, the 19-year-old driver in Sunday's horror crash that claimed five young lives in Mill Park, makes a chilling case study on the limits of the law. The apprentice roof tiler had a speeding conviction in the past year and was only allowed to carry one passenger, according to police.

Instead, his car was crammed with six people as it slammed into an oak tree at 140 km/h after hurtling through the intersection of Childs and Plenty roads.

This is followed by a discussion of the limitations of the law, what has been tried so far and what direction the police may go in next.

The Deputy Police Commissioner was similarly unmoved by the call to destroy cars.

"I intuitively understand why people want to crush cars, but again I go back to the evidence that 99 per cent of people that lose their cars in the first instance don't reoffend."

(Cars can be impounded for up to 48 hours for a first speeding offence.)

The highly readable piece goes on to describe how there is a risk-taking type who shouldn't be behind the wheel and efforts to identify them are being stepped up. Academics are talking about brain scans. The police are talking about working more closely with health professionals and educationalists. The police have apparently "veered into the realm of psychology".

The thing is, even when you identify the 'type', how do you stop him from getting behind the wheel of a car, whether he owns it or not?

You would have more success trying to persuade other people not to get in a car with him. Ultimately, you cannot save people from themselves.

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