Confiscating cars from reckless drivers has already failed for a previous government

Seizing the cars of reckless young offenders has already proved to be a hopeless failure for a previous government, says the car review website editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says:

“It’s election year, so  increasing penalties for drivers who flee police is a tough-sounding policy that will appeal to frustrated voters. However, history has shown that increased penalties for reckless drivers make little or no difference. The Police Association has already acknowledged this.”

In a 2021 article, the Police Association stated:

“Research literature on the deterrent effects of punishment suggested that increasing the severity of penalties for failing to stop would have little effect on offending.”

Matthew-Wilson agrees:

“The research is quite clear: the threat of fines and disqualification do not reduce the risk of offending by the groups most likely to cause fatal crashes. Nor does the threat of losing their cars make much difference.” 

Matthew-Wilson gave the example of the Vehicle Confiscation and Seizure Act, passed by the previous National Government in 2009. This law allowed the cars of boy racers to be seized and crushed.

This harsh new law earned former Police Minister Judith Collins the nickname 'Crusher Collins'. And while the headline-grabbing law was widely praised, figures later released from the the Ministry of Justice showed that just three vehicles were ever crushed, and one of these vehicles wasn’t actually the car driven by the offender.

Matthew-Wilson adds: “There are now more young idiots offending than ever. And despite claims from Collins, the best evidence suggests that the harsh new law made little difference at all.”

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“Most of these fleeing drivers are young idiots who don’t think before they do anything. If they were smart they wouldn’t flee from the police. The fact that they are fleeing from the police generally means they’re too reckless or stupid to realise the risks they are taking.”

“Aside from the fact that these drivers are generally poorly educated, they’re also young, and the part of the brain that understands cause and effect doesn’t fully develop until early adulthood.”

The Police Association article added that many offenders actually chose to flee from police in order to avoid punishment for other offences.