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Why ‘non-essential’ drives should be legal during Coronavirus lockdown

Getting out of the house for a drive and staying safely in your car is essential to your mental health. It shouldn't be illegal.

5 months ago
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Alborz Fallah
Publisher

You may have heard police across Australia are starting to crack down on people ‘blatantly going for a drive’.

They’re handing out insane fines varying between $1300 and $1600 depending on the state, all because a driver was in their car and driving without a valid destination.

Let’s just put this in perspective for a second. Right now in our country if you go for a drive without a destination deemed essential, police have the authority to fine you an obscene amount of money.

That’s even if you never get out of your car, which means the chances of being exposed to another human or the Coronavirus are infinitesimally small.

Adding an extra dimension to why this is absolutely absurd, consider you can go out for exercise to maintain your physical state with one other person.

That person could be a trainer, could be your partner, could be a random. Either way, it’s not an issue.

But you can’t go for a drive – even on your own. Why?

As car lovers, we all know a destination-less drive is one of the most enjoyable things we can do. How many of us have simply hopped in the car and gone for a drive just to clear our heads, or listen to some music, or just… drive?

It’s often the journey and not the destination that we, as car enthusiasts, enjoy the most.

Don’t get me wrong, going to a car meet, getting out, and mingling with random people is pretty stupid right now. But going for a drive to your favourite patch of road, or your favourite sunset spot without ever leaving the car should not be illegal.

How is that in anyway a health issue and more dangerous than, say, going to the supermarket with dozens of total strangers?

Getting a $1600 fine for hopping in the car with your L-plater son or daughter and teaching them how to drive is complete madness. What difference does it make to society? How is being stuck in the car with your family any different to being stuck at home with them?

Why ‘non-essential’ drives should be legal during Coronavirus lockdown

At a time where coffee shops, clubs, bars and essentially all social venues and outings are banned – and for good reason – these drives are absolutely essential to our mental health.

They’re harmless from a medical perspective and their banning is a very worrying sign Australians are allowing the COVID-19 crisis to erode hard-earned civil liberties.

For the most part, none of these new laws have sunset clauses. There’s no clear end date. It’s just ‘until we get things under control’. On the surface that seems reasonable, but it’s actually not.

As a society there needs to be clearly defined guidelines for when civil liberties that are taken away in the name of medical emergency are returned.

Let’s pretend for a minute these lockdowns continue until the end of July at the very least. We’re talking about roughly another 120 days where police expect you to not drive unless you’re headed for the supermarket, a doctor, a pharmacy, or immediate family. It could much longer, we just don’t know.

That is madness Australia, and we shouldn’t let it happen. Whether you’re a car enthusiast or not, getting out of the house, into your own car, and going for a harmless and destination-less drive for the sake of mental health and wellbeing should not be illegal.

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