Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hoon Once and Start Walking

Not very many Americans are familiar with the word “hoon” and the verb, “hooning.”  Hoon is a term with its roots in Australia and New Zealand, and today it refers to anyone who engages in loutish, anti-social behavior.  Hooning, then, is the act of behaving like a hoon, or being, in another permutation of the word, a hoonigan – a verbal mash-up of hoon and hooligan.

Hooning today is a word used predominantly in reference to driving.  Reckless driving, driving a noisy vehicle, performing burnouts, that sort of thing.  While such behavior is anti-social by the standards of modern society, it like many anti-social acts is celebrated in popular culture.  There is a series of YouTube “Hoonigan” videos featuring the admittedly-impressive vehicle-control skills of rally driver Ken Block, and every weekend such behavior is also seen in the victory burnouts performed by NASCAR drivers here in the US.

But back in Australia, hooniganism on the public roads reached a point where the authorities found it necessary to pass what they freely term “anti-hooning laws.”  And these laws have teeth: Once charged with three hooning offenses, one would have one’s vehicle confiscated.  But under the latest revisions of the anti-hoon laws in Australia this past summer, it could take just a single hooning charge to lose one’s car.

A single hooning offense in a school zone could result in the driver losing his or her car, as could a first offense of speeding by more than 90km/h over the limit.  And when you lose your car, you truly lose it.  There will be no getting it back upon payment of a fine or completion of community service or jail time.  Roadworthy cars are auctioned off, while unroadworthy vehicles are sold for scrap.  Profits are directed to road safety programs.

Under the previous three-hoons-and-you’re-out laws, police figures reported that more than 2000 cars were confiscated in 2015 and since 2014 more than 900 vehicles have been auctioned off for more than $1 million.

Twenty-four covert “hoon cameras” monitored by police at strategic locations were proposed with the updated laws, to help with enforcement and lead to more confiscations.

We’re not close to having such confiscatory legislation here in the US, but if vehicular hooniganism should increase, it is not unreasonable to expect legislation to be proposed to combat such a rise.