“Hooning” refers to the act of using a vehicle in an irresponsible and dangerous manner in public places.1 Street racing and hooning behaviours have attracted growing community concern in Australia, and internationally, over recent years. 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 vehicle forfeiture.2


What is ‘hooning’?

  • From both a popular culture and legislative point of view, “hooning” in the Australian context encompasses a broader group of behaviours than illegal street racing.
  • Over recent years, the term “hooning” has been used to refer to antisocial driving behaviours such as:
    • “illegal street” racing
    • Illegal street   racing may be highly organised or spontaneous in nature. Highly    organised races are typically staged   at night in industrial areas, with start   and finish lines marked a quarter of   a mile apart (the traditional distance for drag races).  Some groups use walkie-talkies and even police tape   and false signs to block the traffic    for the duration of the race.  Others   may use rolling road blocks to stage   a race in the middle of a multi-laned   road. 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 “racetrack” is   created for some distance.
  • Spontaneous illegal street racing    refers to impromptu, one-time races between persons who do not know   one another (eg. drivers stopped at   traffic signals on a straight stretch of   a double-laned road may race, with   the traffic signals providing a    starting signal); – “burn outs”
    • when the rear tyres of a vehicle are spun until they heat and smoke;
    • “donuts” – 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;
    • “drifting” – when a vehicle slides sideways through a turn taken at high speed; – unnecessary speed or acceleration; and
    • “speed trials” – when the acceleration and top-speed capability of a vehicle and/or the skill of its driver are tested, usually on a straight road of a set distance, sometimes to establish or break records.

Who ‘hoons’?

  • The label of “hoon” is sometimes applied to car enthusiasts, drivers of  modified vehicles, or to young  drivers  in general.  However those involved in  the car enthusiast scene are not a  homogeneous group, and only a  minority of sub-groups appear to be  truly dangerous. Drivers who engage in  hooning behaviours can be anyone in  any vehicle.
  • A CARRS-Q investigation of 967 hooning offenders involved in 983 hooning offences during the period 2005-062, found that the hooning offenders were primarily:
    • young people aged under 25 years (76.9%) (50.8% were aged 17-20 years);
    • 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 75% of hooning  offenders for whom occupation  was known.
    • The number of females attending  hooning events is increasing