Do this? You might be headed for jail time.
Do this? You might be headed for jail time.

Road ragers to face time in the slammer

ROAD-ragers caught menacing drivers will spend up to five years in jail under new laws promised as part of the State Opposition's tough-on-crime election agenda.

Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington will make road rage a specific offence if the party is elected next year, mirroring laws in New South Wales and Western Australia.

Road rage will become a specific offence under the Opposition. Penalties would range from fines to jail, or both.
Road rage will become a specific offence under the Opposition. Penalties would range from fines to jail, or both.

Those found to have driven with the intention of menacing road users would face a maximum penalty of $3300 or 18 months' jail under the laws, to be announced today.

Even those found to have driven in a way that raised the possibility of causing menace would be punished with a $2200 fine, one-year in prison, or both.

The most serious road-rage drivers - those found guilty of predatory driving - would face a maximum penalty of five years' jail.

Predatory driving would be an indictable offence under the crackdown. The charge would apply to a motorist caught pursuing another with the aim of causing that person bodily harm.

Guilty road rage drivers would also be slapped with mandatory three-year bans on holding a license, expanding to five years for repeat offenders.

Ms Frecklington said road rage was a deadly threat to drivers trying to get home safely.

"The combination of high speeds and hot heads means road rage can strike suddenly and ruin lives," she said.

"Even in bumper-to-bumper traffic, road rage can erupt and cause enormous harm," she said.

"The LNP's laws send the message if you lose control, you lose your licence for at least three years and may ultimately face jail time."

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington in Townsville yesterday, promising that road rage will become an offence. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington in Townsville yesterday, promising that road rage will become an offence. Picture: Zak Simmonds

She also lashed out at Labor in a speech to party faithful in Townsville yesterday, blaming it for overseeing an "unemployment crisis and spiralling rates of crime" in the city.

A research paper on aggressive driving by the Monash University Accident Research Centre, presented at a 2017 road conference, found that aggressive driving in Australia was "prevalent and forms part of a broader pattern of dangerous driving behaviour."

It referred to a 2004 study in which 93 per cent of respondents said they had been a victim of aggression from other motorists during their driving lifetime.

In one fatal road-rage incident on the Gateway Motorway in 2015, motorist Shane Merrigan was killed after factory worker Tamate Henry Heke punched him on the side of the road, causing Mr Merrigan to fall into the path of a 13.7 tonne rubbish truck.

A court heard Heke had been tailgated and challenged by Mr Merrigan to pull over before the incident. Heke was convicted of unlawful striking causing death.

In another case, kickboxer Daniel Valusaga was sentenced in the Southport District Court to 15 months in prison last year with immediate parole after pleading guilty to punching a woman during a road rage fight on a Surfers Paradise street.