Corangamite Shire councillor Simon Illingworth calls for laws to disqualify drivers, impound cars on risky tourist routes

Danger zone: Corangamite Shire councillor Simon Illingworth is calling for new laws to help make tourist routes safer.
Danger zone: Corangamite Shire councillor Simon Illingworth is calling for new laws to help make tourist routes safer.

A south-west councillor is calling for new laws to impound vehicles and disqualify dangerous drivers in a bid to keep the public safe from inexperienced tourists on the road. 

Corangamite Shire councillor Simon Illingworth said many residents of the Great Ocean Road region were living in fear of a major crash involving international drivers who did not understand Australian road rules.

“In recent days I have received two photographic examples of tourists driving on the wrong side of the road in the precincts of Princetown and Port Campbell,” he said. “This must be stopped.”  

Cr Illingworth, a Port Campbell resident and former police officer, said signs and arrows painted on roads were not cutting through to all tourist drivers.

He advocates a new law allowing police to impound vehicles, including hire cars, if they believe it is being “driven in a manner dangerous to any person owing to the driver’s inability to operate the vehicle safely due to lack of road law knowledge, driving skill, capability or inexperience.  

“The licence of that driver is immediately disqualified from driving any vehicle until such time as they have passed a Victorian drivers licence test,” Cr Illingworth said.

Under the plan, vehicles would be impounded for three months, or one month if owned by a third party such as a hire company.

“If the hire company can display that it has briefed the driver (if a tourist) in Australian road laws to a satisfactory standard the vehicle can be released earlier than prescribed,” Cr Illingworth said.

A tourist van photographed on the wrong side of the road near Port Campbell.

A tourist van photographed on the wrong side of the road near Port Campbell.

“The idea of rental companies losing a car for up to a month is designed to motivate them to take some responsibility to coach the potential international tourist driver in road laws.”