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Australian State Could Require Special Driver’s License for Performance Cars

Other proposed measures include a ban on disabling traction control in high-powered vehicles.

byLewin Day|
Culture photo


The government of South Australia is exploring sweeping road safety reforms in the wake of a high-profile court case, reports ABC News.

Potential reforms on the table include a special license for those wishing to drive higher-powered vehicles. Such legislation is already in place in many Australian states for provisional drivers and motorcycle riders. Such restrictions are typically made on the basis of power-to-weight ratios, or vehicles featuring eight or more cylinders or turbocharged engines.

Further measures include a ban on disabling traction control in high-powered vehicles. There's also a push to strengthen driving bans on drivers accused of fatal incidents that are still before the courts.

The move comes in the wake of a controversial local court case regarding a fatal accident in 2019. In the incident, 15-year-old Sophia Naismith was tragically killed when she was hit by an out-of-control Lamborghini Huracan driven by Alexander Campbell. The Huracan (pictured above) mounted the footpath and crashed into the front of a Chinese restaurant, killing Naismith and seriously wounding one other in the process.

Last week, Campell was acquitted of death by dangerous driving, instead pleading guilty to the lesser offense of driving without due care. The verdict prompted swift backlash from the community, and renewed calls for reform from Naismith's family.

South Australian Premier, Peter Malinauskas, announced that the case showed "a need for law reform in this area." Regarding the verdict, he stated that "in most South Australians' minds, justice hasn't been done here." The Premier indicated his government hopes to introduce new road safety laws to parliament by year's end.

The intention is that the new requirements will apply to all license holders retrospectively. This could require drivers of high-powered vehicles to secure new permits, potentially through an advanced training and testing scheme. It's also unclear how authorities would investigate and enforce incidents of drivers disabling traction control in their vehicles.

Such measures would also cause issues with drivers crossing state lines. Presently, a holder of a full adult license can drive any car in any state in Australia. If South Australia brought in these regulations, there may be problems with enforcement regarding license holders from interstate.

The Premier expects a "degree of resistance" from owners, but nonetheless believes "it's the right thing to do." The state opposition has indicated it supports a review of existing laws ahead of the matter coming to parliament later this year.

Any measure to restrict a driver's choice of vehicle will be seen as a loss of freedom to some. However, outside the car enthusiast bubble, such a policy may find support amongst the wider public. If the measures go ahead, owners of high-powered vehicles in South Australia may find themselves signing up for a new license to allow them to continue driving the cars they already own.

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