hoon (n.):  The term orginates from the 1930s and refers to a lout or loutish behaviour, particularly behind the wheel of a car. A hoon will be engaging in any of the following activities while in control of a motor vehicle:

1)      High speed driving, defined by the Road Traffic Amendment (Hoons) Act 2009 as being in excess of 45kms/hr.

2)      The loss of traction of 1or more wheels.

3)      Drifting, or the deliberate loss of a motor vehicle, particularly as it comes out of a turn. This technique was made famous by the Fast & The Furious movies.

4)      Participating in illegal street or drag racing.

5)      Using the vehicle to perform burnouts, donuts or fishtails.

grunt (v.) The unit of power a hoon-mobile operates in.

drag (v.) Illegal street racing, commonly starting at red lights when two vehicles with grunt sidle up beside each other. Much like the performance art of drag, it’s all about who can make the loudest noise while careening off at a million miles.

souped up (n.) A hoon-mobile with all the chrome.

burnout (n.) Something gay boys are incapable of executing in a motor vehicle. This is the defining feature by which you can spot a homosexual.

cop magnet (n.) A grunty souped up hoon-mobile.

Kate Duell has a partner, a kid, a couple of horses… and a big black ute that puts all the other cars on the road to shame.

‘I got brought up in a Speedway family with motorbikes and beach buggies and stuff so I’m used to having a bit of power between my legs,’ Duell says of her mutual passion for horses and her Holden Crewman SS Ute.

As far as vehicles go, her ute is a big solid beast. With a twin cab and tray, it’s the perfect semi-rural machine. The dual seating cabin means that she can safely transport her partner and child around while the tray means she can haul home a whole heap of horse feed.

‘It’s crucial to my life because I have horses and I need something with grunt to tow the float. It’s just like a normal car unless I want to take the horses somewhere, like taking them up to Toodyay for the weekend.’

It’s this particular sense of freedom that made the Crewman such an appealing option: the sheer horsepower of the ute means that a country jaunt to power up the horses is so much easier to obtain. Just load up the engine, attach the float and drop it to the floor.

‘It’s a 350 Chevy engine that has 5.7 litres… so she can move,’ Duell giggles.

Of course, such a big machine isn’t just appealing to the hard yakka girl… it’s a magnet for bogan boys and highway hoons alike. For us, the juxtaposition of a hot girl behind the wheel of such a beast is what we’d expect – neigh, encourage. But out there on the open roads, the image still manages to do plenty of straight blokes heads in. As such, their revhead mentality comes to the fore, making for light entertainment as far as Duell is concerned.

‘I’ve had it for a few years so the novelty has worn off but when I first got it, it was kinda exciting, especially when you’d pull up at a set of lights and you’d get some lads in their souped up boys-toy kinda trying to drag you off and you’d just smile and leave them for dead.’

But then that’s the main problem with a road warrior such as this: it attracts attention, not all of it necessarily good. A ute such as Duell’s is what is known as a “cop magnet”.

With an increase of powerful vehicles on the road, it’s no surprise that legislation regarding road safety was recently amended in regards to the Road Traffic Amendment (Hoons) Act 2009. By definition, a hoon is anybody who manoeuvrers their vehicle in a reckless manner, does a burnout, or exceeds the speed limit by 45kms/hr.

In 2010, there were 869 crashes where speed was judged by attending police to be a factor in the crash. The proportion of crashes with speed a factor decreases as crash severity decreases. In 2010, speeding was a factor in 24 per cent of fatal crashes, 12 per cent of hospitalisation crashes and nine per cent of other crashes attended by police. Men account for 90 per cent of those drivers, with speed-related fatal crashes occurring in both 110km/hr speed zones 60 km/hr speed zones.

We’re not even halfway through 2012 and already there have been 72 deaths on WA roads and 1,172 people seriously injured. Forty two of those deaths have occurred in Metropolitan WA.

It’s a sobering fact really. Thank God then Duell is a sensible driver, not only conscious of the road rules, but aware that a ute such as hers falls safely into the hot list of vehicles WA Police keep an eye on.

‘Make sure everything is pretty good on them because they tend to be cop-bait and make sure you have the money to run them because they aren’t cheap, especially with fuel as it is,’ Duell encouraged.

‘And the cops will love to pull you over in a ute like this. It’s a beast: just treat the road and everybody else on it with respect and you should do fine. The moment you’re reckless behind the wheel… well, let’s just hope that actually never occurs. But yes, police will pull you over often in a ute like this: it’s a hoon-mobile in the wrong hands.’

So why have such a powerful car then?

‘It looks cool. No, not really. For me it’s the practicality. And it’s good if you are doing long trips because you have the power to overtake trucks and road trains with ease and it just has the power to go.’

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

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