The Aussie Hooning Culture

While it was bucketing down with rain last night, the first thing I heard after jumping in the car was my boyfriend saying, “Let’s do some skids.” You can imagine the look of disgust on my face as we drove off in my Toyota Yaris…

My boyfriend’s car, on the other hand, is a total cop magnet! He’s spent hundreds and hundreds on modifications to increase its ‘performance’, and by performance, I mean making the car faster and louder. He reckons the mods are for him to reach the speed limit faster, but between you and me I know he has other intentions.

So there’s those car enthusiasts like my boyfriend who own a money pit and those who own old beat up cars. They both have one thing in common, a need for speed. These types of people can often be referred to as your typical hoon. If you aren’t familiar with the Australian term ‘hooning’, hooning in its simplest form is reckless driving. This deliberate, antisocial behaviour often includes illegal street racing and speed trials on public roads, burn-outs (spinning of a car’s wheels when stationary), drifting (vehicle sliding side-ways) and donuts (a car rotating in a circular pattern generating noise and tyre tread marks).

Characteristics of a hoon

Hooning typically involves males aged between 17 and 25. They often drive cars that are 10 years old or older (often Holden and Ford sedans or high performance Japanese cars). The Traffic Response Group has identified a subculture that has formed in South East Queensland that accepts anti-social driving as normal behaviour, and those that get busted by the cops seem to think it’s a ‘rite of passage’.

This subculture is socially constructed and socially reinforced. Basically, it’s run by a bunch of hooligans and is driven by testosterone and peer pressure *pun intended*.

Why are people involved in hooning?

Hoons engage in these behaviours to assert their masculinity, personal skill and control, as well as undermining driving norms and rebelling against authorities.

Hooning is an activity that allows young men to act out what is thought to be ‘manly behaviour’. Voluntary risk-taking such as hooning gives young men a sense of control through the performative element of car culture. This results in a feeling of accomplishment. These rev-heads in their hotted up cars participate in hooning to gain social status, which helps in defining one’s self-concept.

Boys and their toys

The Queensland Government has upped the ante with their hooning laws. There’s none of this ‘it’s just boys and their toys’ business anymore. The introduction of the Anti-hoon legislation in 2002 now allows police officers to impound and confiscate vehicles involved in hooning offences. Hoons should also fear the increasing use of dash-cams which record these law breaking actions, road rage and accidents. There’s no excuses anymore.

Young drivers (17-24 years) represent one quarter of Australian road deaths (generally caused by speeding) and 75% of those killed are male. With these horrifying statistics and the whopping fines that hoons receive, you would think they would learn their lesson, right?

“Advertising campaigns that attempt to play on young men’s emotions doesn’t work. This is partly because the area of their brain that regulates emotion hasn’t fully developed yet” – Professor Stephen Houghotn, UWA’s Centre for Child and Adolscent Related Disorders

However, the ‘pinkie’ campaign (NSW) shown above addressing the social acceptability of hoon behaviour had some success. The pride and masculinity of many hoons had been squashed.

A hoon’s safe place

So, I have some good news for all those speed demons out there. Here are a list of hoon friendly activities where car fanatics can go nuts without fearing those red and blue flashing lights. Firstly, Queensland Raceway holds a bunch of awesome activities like Friday Night Drift where drivers can drift and skid the night away. Secondly, Lakeside Off Street Drags gives drivers the chance to go head-to-head down the main straight and Roll Racing Brisbane allows hoons to street race without the risk of getting caught. Finally, Willowbank Raceway offers Race Ya Mate, which clearly speaks for itself. Each of these exhilarating activities come at a small cost, which is so much better than receiving a hefty fine or having your car impounded. Being a car enthusiast can be a positive lifestyle choice for those not participating in illegal hooning activities. They just need to be responsible by not being fools, and just following the rules.

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