Opinion Piece: Don’t Be a Tool (Street Commodores Editorial Columns)

10 Sep

This is the 16th in a regular series of editorial pieces we’ll be posting here on the blog, originally written by Hosking Industries’ Ben Hosking for Street Commodores magazine and other magazines he’s completed opinion pieces for. This column appeared in issue 182 of Street Commodores:

Don’t Be a Tool (Written February 1, 2011)

How do you expect to receive fair treatment when you play the fool?

I was driving out to Katoomba recently for the second annual Lady Luck Festival. Situated a kilometre up in the air atop the Blue Mountains in NSW, it was a wonderful place to cruise to on a warm Saturday morning. However the first part of my trip was both disappointingly annoying and confounding all at once.

Not more than five kays from my front door I noticed a VR or VS sedan up ahead with clear tail lights and stockies on the back. Right away I knew the guy would be up to no good – that combination always spells disaster. Sure enough, at the next set of lights he stood on the throttle and lit up his driver’s side rear cheese cutter.

Leaving behind no more than a pitiful single-legger and the smallest hint of smoke, the driver was clearly out to prove his immense manhood and proceeded to light it up again at the very next set of traffic lights. This time he produced more smoke. While I laugh at the RTA’s ridiculous ‘pinky finger’ advertising campaign, I was hoping that he’d have seen my disappointed head shaking from his rear view.

Perhaps he did, because at the third red light in a row, he went all out and kept his foot into the poor old V6 for a long time, churning out a bit of smoke and leaving a long single black line across the intersection. This is where it got kind of funny and ridiculous all at once.

By this point I was pissed and more than a bit embarrassed to be a fellow Commodore driver sitting amongst all the other Saturday morning commuters. I was hoping none of the other regular motorists would think I was associated with this tool that was making a fool of himself.

In true Sydney style, we proceeded to find ourselves at yet another red light; only this time I found myself sitting right next to him in the next lane. Trying to avoid eye contact and almost unable to speak with a combination of shame and anger, I hear it: “Hey,” he says. “Is this the wagon from Street Commodores?”

All I could muster was a nod of the head. After three consecutive examples perfectly displaying the reason why our scene is so plagued by government intervention and restriction, this guy wanted to chat like everything was cool! Well dude, I gotta tell you; you’re the very reason life can be hard for modified car owners.

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m no saint. We’ve all done idiot things on public roads in our time like midnight cul-de-sac burnouts, red light racing at 2am or failing to indicate. However, this display was just downright moronic behaviour. Not only was he risking his license and his car for the burnouts, more dire was the impression he was leaving on the general voting public – those same people that cry foul to their local MPs about those dangerous ‘hoons’.

It’s the public perception of modified car owners that see legislation on what you can do to your cars become ever tighter. It’s how the majority of the population view us as a whole, despite the fact that most of us a largely law abiding citizens who pay our taxes and donate to charity. The minority, like this Saturday morning twit, are what ruin it for all of us.

Is there any way to stamp out this true ‘hoon’ behaviour? Is it just a symptom of age and the adolescent brain? How would we go about making people see the error of their ways and reducing the idiot actions of the few to make life easier for the many?

Obviously this issue spreads wider than the younger, more impulsive drivers – there is plenty of immaturity in our older generations, too. There’s also the group dynamic and how it affects the way people act: you get a friend or three in the car next to you and the impulse is to show off or prove your worth by doing risky or ‘macho’ things. Sometimes that impulse stems simply from trying to impress – or even bully – other drivers around you.

I think one answer is to do something similar – but less stupid – and put peer pressure on friends, colleagues, family and even strangers not to perform moronic stunts on public roads and certainly not in front of regular motorists. Let them know they’re making the rest of us look bad and explain how their actions are the reason why the modification rules are so strict… and why the penalties for reckless driving are so high.

What do you think? Jump online to our discussion forums and let us know.

Drive smart,

Ben Hosking

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