South Australia Proposes Requiring A Special License To Drive High-Performance Cars

Morning Dump South Australia High Power Car License

South Australia plans a special license for performance car drivers, Kia and Hyundai recall large crossovers due to fire risk, Honda is reportedly considering reducing supply chain reliance on China. All this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

South Australia Plans Special License For Performance Cars

South Australia license high-performance cars
Photo credit Lamborghini

The Australian state of South Australia is zeroing in on performance car owners with new road safety regulations. ABC News Australia reports that South Australia Premier Peter Malinauskas and his government are planning several reforms that include implementing a dedicated license for powerful cars in the aim of preventing further pedestrian deaths.

Mr Malinauskas said his government was in the process of drafting new road safety laws and aimed to introduce them to parliament by the end of this year.

That reform includes establishing a licensing scheme for drivers of high-powered vehicles, similar to motorcycle and truck licences.

The licensing scheme would be retrospective, and Mr Malinauskas anticipated a “degree of resistance” from existing car owners.

“I believe it’s the right thing to do, I think most of the community think it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

The government will also strengthen laws to ban drivers accused of killing someone from holding a license until their case is resolved, and ban the disabling of traction control in high-powered vehicles.

These proposals come in the wake of a high-profile pedestrian fatality where a driver in a Lamborghini Huracan failed to maintain control of their vehicle and mounted the sidewalk, fatally colliding with a 15-year-old pedestrian. Due to a combination of factors including the driver traveling below the posted speed limit at the time of the collision, the driver was acquitted of death by dangerous driving.

Premier Peter Malinauskas said the outcome of the case demonstrated “a need for law reform in the area”.

“I think the verdict really highlighted the fact that, in most South Australians’ minds, justice hasn’t been done here,” he said.

“And where justice isn’t done, or isn’t seen to be done, that raises the question of the need for law reform and that’s certainly what happened and I want to respond quickly.”

The tragedy at the heart of these proposed reforms was very clearly caused by one driver’s poor judgement. While I strongly agree that some reforms are needed to properly penalize those responsible for road fatalities, I’m a bit conflicted about the proposed reforms we’re seeing here. On the one hand, higher license requirements for drivers are generally beneficial for road safety. Drivers improve through teaching and experience, so requiring more driver training to get a high-performance license should put safer drivers behind the wheel of performance cars. In addition, increased penalties for drivers facing criminal charges relating to fatal collisions promise to be formidable sticks. On the other, “high-powered vehicles” is unacceptably vague and a retrospective license scheme seems a bit punitive given graduated licensing precedents.

Oh, and a ban on disabling traction control just seems like a basic lack of understanding. Many performance cars from Hyundai’s N models to newer BMWs relax traction and stability control a touch in their sportiest road drive modes, and there are still many older performance cars around that simply don’t have traction control. Plus, traction control systems don’t override the laws of physics. It’s entirely up to the driver to rein in their throttle control regardless of the presence of traction control.

Kia Telluride And Hyundai Palisade Recalled For Risk Of Fire

2020 Telluride
Photo credit: Kia

Anyone who lived through Ford’s infamous cruise control switch recall will feel a degree of familiarity with this new recall affecting select Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade crossovers. Owners of affected vehicles should park outside far away from anything like buildings and other vehicles because their crossovers could self-immolate while parked. Let’s take a look at the NHTSA recall reports and get to the bottom of this issue.

The issue stems from four-pin trailer hitch wiring harness that, due to the way it was sold/installed, makes pinning down affected vehicles an absolute nightmare. The four-pin harness was a port-installed option on 2020 Tellurides, but it was also sold as a dealer-installed accessory for both the Kia Telluride and its Hyundai Palisade sibling. Vehicles with seven-pin harnesses aren’t affected. The NHTSA recall report to the Telluride points to the four-pin harness’ module as the culprit.

A fire may occur in the area of the tow hitch harness module while driving or while the vehicle is parked with the ignition off. Foreign material and moisture contamination on the tow hitch harness module printed circuit board (PCB) may result in an electrical short circuit, thereby increasing the risk of a tow hitch harness module fire. The origin of PCB contamination is currently unknown but is under investigation.

A PCB prone to shorting is concerning given the exposed nature of trailer harness modules. Contaminants should have been considered during the design process. Also, there might be something seriously wrong with me because I was unusually amused by NHTSA’s safety risk description, which is simply “A fire increases risk of injury.” No kidding, NHTSA. Hyundai and Kia are currently working on a fix, so owners can’t do much at the moment but park away from things and carry a fire extinguisher should they need to use their vehicles. Here’s to hoping this resolves soon, because car fires really aren’t fun to deal with.

Former Apple Engineer Pleads Guilty To Stealing Autonomous Car Secrets

Apple Park Cupertino 2019
Photo credit: Arne Müseler / www.arne-mueseler.com, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

If you’re leaving a secretive program at a hugely important company, it’s best to not take anything from the program with you. Reuters reports that a former Apple engineer has pled guilty to stealing trade secrets from Apple’s automotive program.

U.S. federal prosecutors have alleged that Xiaolang Zhang downloaded the plan for a circuit board for Apple’s self-driving after disclosing his intentions to work for a Chinese self-driving car startup and booking a last-minute flight to China.

He was arrested at the San Jose airport after he passed through a security checkpoint.

Xpeng, the Chinese electric car maker Zhang joined after leaving Apple in 2018, said on its Twitter-like Sina Weibo account on Tuesday that the company had no dispute with Apple over the issue and that it was not involved in Zhang’s case in any form.

While it has been previously reported by Bloomberg that Apple was working on autonomous vehicle technology, this trade secret case offers a firm timeline of just how long Apple has been working on this tech. Apple reportedly intends to launch some form of autonomous vehicle solution in 2025, although that seems like a rather ambitious timeline considering we’re only just now getting to Level 3 autonomy in the wider automotive industry.

Honda Is Reportedly Considering Reducing Reliance On China

2023 Honda HR-V EX-L
Photo credit: Honda

With global automotive supply chains in a state of disarray, it’s time for automaker to reconsider their supply chain management strategies. Reuters reports that Honda is considering reducing supply chain reliance on China, either in a major way or in a more nuanced manner.

Honda Motor Co Ltd is considering building a separate supply chain that would reduce its dependence on China, the Sankei newspaper reported on Wednesday, in what would be a high profile move by a major Japanese manufacturer.

A separate supply chain sounds like a radical rethink for Honda. However, it might not happen as Sankei describes. Reuters reached out to Honda and got this comment.

A Honda spokesperson said the Sankei report is not something announced by the company, adding it has been working on reviewing and risk-hedging its supply chain in general.

“The review of the supply chain from China and risk hedging are elements that need to be considered, but it is not quite the same as the objective of decoupling,” the spokesperson said.

If supply chain management changes do get put in place, it sounds like Honda could be better prepared for future shutdowns occurring further down the supply chain. In any case, Honda certainly wouldn’t be the first automaker to reconsider reliance on China for components. Reuters reports that Mazda is using a combination of stockpiling and diversification to avoid future interruptions.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Wednesday, everyone, we’re officially halfway through the week. The middle of the week calls for a middle-related question, and I’m wondering how many of you miss bench front seats in passenger cars. While the front bench in my Ford Crown Victoria offered all the lateral support of a barstool, it was nice being able to slide in from the curb side and really stretch out on long trips.

Lead photo credit: BMW

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63 Responses

  1. I’m all for requiring special licenses for vehicles and making them challenging to get.

    However the special licenses should be for vehicles with _reduced_ capabilities or other unusual qualities.

    Heavy vehicle with longer stopping distance (Like half-ton or larger pickups, and any SUV named after some superlatively large object)? You should need to prove you know how to handle it.

    Towing ANYTHING?

    External cargo?

    Excess blind spots?

    All these things should need training. If we can require a motorcycle endorsement so people don’t kill _themselves_ it seems reasonable to make people prove they won’t kill _other_ people.

    If you want to drive a car that handles extremely well, and stops quickly….. you should get to drive extra fast. Seems reasonable.

  2. Bench seats are awesome when you’re dating, or even when you’re married and comfortable. Absolutely nothing like having your loved one slide over and sit next to you while you’re cruising down the road.
    Anyone that hasn’t had one at one point in time is missing out.

    Nuff said.

    1. Stickshifts and safetybelts
      Bucket seats have all got to go
      When we’re driving in the car
      It makes my baby seem so far
      I need you here with me
      Not way over in a bucket seat
      I need you to be here with me
      Not way over in a bucket seat

  3. I do not miss front bench seats in modern cars. Functional cupholders are wonderful. Some of the janky solutions to cupholders I’ve dealt with in front bench seats felt like the designer was actively punishing me for daring to want a small water bottle or travel mug secured and conveniently at hand.

    1. the best solution is in most half ton work trucks, the center seat back folds down and has cup holders for the Karens of the world, but also the storage location for their various knicknacks. some even have a cubby under the seat pad allowing for even more crap to be stored for easy access when people are doing anything but actually driving.

  4. I for one, love this idea of a “super license”. Let me pay for it, I’ll pay $500 a year, every year, to be able to drive 70mph out in the country on two lane roads, instead of the archaic 55mph. Let me go 100 on the interstate. Give me a neon green license plate or something and let me drive faster.

    Speed limits were largely set when cars had drum brakes, bias ply tires, and lap belts. The fact our speed limits have barely changed in decades is just ridiculous, even economy cars today can comfortably cruise at 100+ for hours without issue.

    Honestly sometimes I wonder why I’m even into cars at all; the police around here are nazis, I got a $400+ ticket for going 70mph in the middle of nowhere a while ago, speed limit was 55. Officer tries telling me how going that fast is dangerous…. bro I have Z rated tires, wider than stock, upgraded rotors/pads/lines, and I’m paying attention unlike the Karens in crossovers. Since he was acting like a tax collector with a badge, I decided to waste his time and told him all about the speed limit paradox in Montana, and how the deathrate PLUMMETED to an all time low when they didn’t have a speed limit.

    This was the opposite of what everyone thought would happen, common sense says more speed = more death, but the exact opposite happened because people were driving faster, and as fast as they felt ‘comfortable’. This meant they were paying attention…. and honestly at 55mph I am bored out of my mind. I don’t know why I like fast cars, I don’t get to use them. Cops harass you if you go 10 over the limit here, cost you tons of money, and wreck your insurance costs. All so they can afford more tacticool gear and idle their giant SUVs all over the place while they buy donuts at Kwik Trip.

    / rant

    1. Letting people drive faster is not the idea. The idea is to have special license for a particular kind of car just as you need to be licensed specifically to drive a large commercial vehicle. You’d still have to drive the posted speed limit. They’ll just let you do it in a Lambo.

      1. I believe it is also to dissuade Baller and Youtube rich turds, who can barely drive a semi-autonomous car, from driving these things. I wonder if a Mustang is included, you see a lot of those guys hitting stuff with the tires up in smoke.

    2. Come to Michigan dude… literally the best place for driving fast. Cops here do 85 on the interstate zoned for 70mph. We have Woodward, tight turns at interstate speeds on 696, cruise friendly michigan lefts, lots of hodden twistie roads.. etc

      1. Sign me up!!!My car disintegrating in a pile of salty rust is a small price to pay.

        I live in a country where cops are anti-speed nazis and politicians love the ticketing tax.It’s infuriating!

    3. it is not the capabilities of the cars, it is other drivers, and road design. No banking, massive uneven surfaces.

      I would bet if you have a bubbly exhaust and fat tires, the police just had a hard on to pull you over.

  5. A special license for higher powered cars makes a ton of sense. I guess in the states, that would be like an additional endorsement on your license?

    I’m curious about the enforcement of such a law? What happens if you get caught driving a vehicle w/o said endorsement?

    1. Agree there are some logistical challenges not least of which is what is the definition of a high powered car and as cars get steadily more powerful does that mean more people need to get the license? Also what about modified vehicles, say a standard 370Z doesn’t need the license but after throwing on a couple of turbos and adding 200hp does it now mean a license is needed?

      Despite this I’m in favour in principal but the devil will no doubt be in the detail of what is proposed.

  6. I look forward to seeing how the Aussie legislation is written, other than “poorly”. Probably will be as finely thought out as the old assault weapons ban that managed to make the Ranch Rifle simultaneously illegal and legal.

    As a hypotheical set of rules, you know what’s a 2 door vehicle without traction control and more than 300 horsepower? My truck. Know what’s not a performance vehicle? Same.

    This has excellent grounds for hilarity, given the ballooning HP numbers on even the most mundane family haulers of late.

    We have a local tracker of vehicles that run into buildings, which is frequently a similar low-speed out-of-control situation as described here. It is not a high performance car problem.

    1. Don’t even tie it to the car, as things can get modded. Just offer it as optional, and let us drive faster. I would gladly pay through the nose to be able to go 20+mph faster than the posted limit on interstates and back country highways.

      And yes, obviously do not go faster in suburban/residential areas….

      1. You have created an entire hypothetical law set that has nothing to do with the article or stated proposal.

        If they won’t let you drive a fast car slow without a special license, why do you think they’ll let you drive anything fast?

        1. The article does mention, “Mr Malinauskas anticipated a “degree of resistance” from existing car owners.” Which begs the question: is there a version of the law that can increase safety, and can get almost EVERYONE on board? What version of the law would these owners actually support and endorse? See, in this hypothetical world, government is actually understands where accidents come from, and is actually concerned about safety.

          Which leads to the discussion offered by ADDvanced: by offering privileges. Note that the death in the story was not due to high speed, and most deaths, especially pedestrian deaths, are not. So, I would gladly take additional driving training, and pay more for a license, thereby increasing safety overall (especially around town and to pedestrians), if that extra ability was recognized by allowing me to drive faster on the interstate. I would even be for vehicle safety inspection requirements (which my state doesn’t have) if it meant I could drive faster on the highway.

          But that requires version of a law would require nuance and understanding. Something the electorate won’t abide!

          1. No law will be written to satisfy everyone because everyone thinks they’re a good driver who always pays attention and can totally handle driving a 5,000 lb missile at 100mph. Some of those people will even be right.

    2. The high hood height and brick wall-like verticality of basically any modern truck means it is better at turning pedestrians into chunky Ragu than the low hood height (and horizontality) of a Mazda Miata. So yeah, get a special license like the big rig drivers most pick up trucks these days are so desperately trying to emulate.

  7. Do I miss bench seats? Not really. Never owned one, but I always have preferred bolstering and find a well-designed bolstered seat to be more comfortable than flying around the entire width of the car while taking a turn. The G85 Recaros in my Cobalt are absolutely wonderful – even after 10-12 hours.

  8. I’m all for a special performance license but can we also make normal licenses harder to get?
    I’m absolutely sick of crap drivers who have so little skill they need to drive waaaaay under the limit.You’ll also see them waiting at intersections, refusing to pull out until there’s a massive gap. It’s just ridiculous

    1. I agree with you but the more dangerous person is the one doing 105 in a nissan altima through traffic with absolutely no idea of vehicle dynamics. Most people are completely ignorant when it comes to controlling a vehicle at highway speeds.

    1. On one Level it makes sense but then you have to realize that you can buy a Honda Civic today that is more powerful than a Lamborghini from just a few decades ago. Almost any modern car can go faster than the capabilities of most ordinary drivers. Yes we should have special licenses for high power cars, but we should probably also have better training for even “regular” car drivers.

  9. Miss bench seats? God no. I had 4 siblings and we had a Crown Vic. All 6 of us jammed in that fucking car for every trip. My dad is 6′ 4″, I was over 6 feet in middle school and two of my sisters are both 5′ 10+”. If there hadn’t been bench seats we could have gotten a van and actually had some space.

  10. I never cared for bench seats. In two door cars I absolutely can’t stand them. Classic American muscle cars with bench seats are soul sucking. If anyone here has a muscle car with bench seats, let me paraphrase Maxwell Smart. “I hope I wasn’t out of line with that soul sucking remark.”

  11. Bench seats are just the best. My ’94 deVille had a split bench that I could sit on for 10 straight hours and feel just fine after the trip was complete. The ’98 Eldorado that replaced it had great-looking leather buckets, but no matter how much I tweaked the lumbar settings, I would be tired or need a break around the 3-hour mark. I know they’re better for performance driving, but I don’t do much of that – road trips are more my thing.

    My girlfriend at the time (now wife) used to sit cross-legged on the front bench facing me when we took the ’67 deVille I had at the time on longer trips. Of course, she did lock the door behind her – safety first! To be fair, she’s from Brazil – her stories of piling five or six people into a Fusca (air-cooled Beetle) and venturing out onto the highways for a few hours of vehicular near-misses, breakdowns, and other assorted mayhem puts “safety” into perspective.

  12. At least in Ontario, it’s harder for me to get a license to be qualified to ride a 300lb motorcycle with horsepower low enough to include anything after the decimal place (16.1hp, 37 years ago at least) than to be allowed to drive a 3+ ton 700hp Ram TRX. There’s definitely room to tighten up licensing standards.

  13. Miss Bench seats? My DTS has one and I love it. Leg not crushed against center console, flip down cup holders, nice armrest.

    It was normally one used for limos designs but never stretched. I drove the same year with the center console and felt cramped in a large car.

  14. “ The middle of the week calls for a middle-related question, and I’m wondering how many of you miss bench front seats in passenger cars.”

    While I can’t say I’ve ever missed them, I will certainly never forget the many late night high school journeys in my friend’s old pickup truck with a bench seat and no seatbelts!

    1. Came here to comment this. Also, I might be the only one but I have always wanted to turn the back seat of some 70s town car or eldorado into a couch for my garage. Probably missed my window on being able to grab one at the local pick n pull and still lack the fabrication skills to make one but it would be cool to have that level of velour luxury to kick back on.

  15. I love the idea of a high powered license here in the states. Hell, make everything over 6,000 pounds require a CDL while you’re at it too. Modern cars are TOO GODDAMN FAST and TOO GODDAMN HUGE. A combination of the above is responsible for the current killing fields that are American roads.

    I’m all for freedom and whatnot but there’s certain stuff the average person just can’t be trusted with…and American car manufacturers are consistently fanning the flames by making it easier and easier to get into this stuff. If your credit exists and you have a pulse you can walk into a Dodge dealership right now and leave in a Hellcat or BIG FREEDOM RAM COMPENSATOR or whatever.

    Less than high functioning people+big power=death. This stuff is all shockingly easy to drive too…it’s not like there’s a learning curve in modern high powered cars. Get in. Mash the throttle. Go. And I can assure you that as ludicrously powerful EVs become more and commonplace things will only get worse.

    …that being said, it’s wishful thinking and nothing more.

    1. “American car manufacturers are consistently fanning the flames by making it easier and easier to get into this stuff. If your credit exists and you have a pulse you can walk into a Dodge dealership right now and leave in a Hellcat or BIG FREEDOM RAM COMPENSATOR or whatever.”

      Hilarious. Yes, I’m sure $80,000 cars are just being given out like candy. Step right up!

      Plenty of overpowered offerings from other countries too, not sure why this is an American thing.

      1. I see where you’re coming from…but you can’t walk into a Porsche dealership with a 55k a year income/550 credit score and drive away in a 911 that’s financed on a 10 year loan. You can absolutely walk into a Dodge dealership with those same numbers and drive away in a Scat Pack, or go to a Ford dealership and drive away in an F150.

        The American companies are well known for playing fast and loose with their financing…it’s one of the reasons why there are so damn many of these things on the road. In fact, I believe Ford (or maybe it’s another one of the Big 3) has specific financing for their trucks that offers longer term loans and broader credit approval.

    2. “Killing fields” in this case being 1.33 deaths per million miles traveled?

      Is it up slightly from pre-pandemic years? Yes. Is it still lower than we had ever achieved until the mid 2000s? Also yes.

      If you have to rend yourself to such histrionics to support your point regardless whether data supports it, you belong in politics, not a reasonable discussion.

  16. I wish US states would require special licenses for RV drivers. If you want to drive any other 40-foot-long, 30,000 lb. vehicle, you’ll need a CDL. But put a stove and a toilet in it, and suddenly it’s an RV, which any moron with a Cracker Jack box operator’s license is allowed to drive it. SCARY!

    1. I’d like to see a required endorsement for driving any vehicle with a curb weight above 2500 kg. or gross weight (including trailers) above 3500. It should be fairly easy to get, but VERY easy to lose.
      I just see too many “light” duty “trucks” being driven very badly by people who don’t seem to recognise the damage they can cause to whatever they end up hitting.

      1. That’s a better idea than a CDL. Your average HD pickup or cargo van buyer doesn’t need to know how to operate the Jake brake and pneumatic brakes their vehicle doesn’t have. Nor do they need to know how to slow down by downshifting to save their brakes on a descent since they almost certainly have an automatic transmission. A CDL is way too much to ask of people for vehicles that don’t need that level of skill.

  17. The Aussie legislation seems like the kind of thing which will spur a lot of knee-jerk yelling and not much nuanced discussion. So let’s change that.

    The fundamental problem is of people driving like bogans (look that word up, kids). The thinking is that faster vehicles are more difficult to control for your average bogan and therefore more dangerous to themselves and others. I buy that argument, but there are lots of things which make a vehicle dangerous. Statistically, the best vehicles for killing cyclists and pedestrians are those with high hoods, not high power-to-weight ratios.

    And as others have pointed out, speeding is context-dependent. Going 15-over in a school zone is a far more dangerous activity than on the Montana-Canada border.

    So a vehicle becomes more dangerous to others as a function not only of its power-to-weight ratio, but also its height, its speed, and the location where all those things are happening. So what does good legislation to address the root cause actually look like?

    My argument is for a better policy that does the following:

    (1) Designate all roads as belonging within three geographic classes: high-density (urban), medium-density (suburban), and low-density (rural). Create three different sets of speeding criteria depending on the road type. 5-over gets you a ticket in high-density zones, while it’s just a warning until you’re doing 15-over in a low-density area.

    (2) Create a “pedestrian danger” class of vehicle based on a power-to-weight ratio greater than 8lbs/HP (that’s 500HP in a 2-ton vehicle) and/or 60″ hood height. This is a tiiiiiny fraction of vehicles. Create different plates for these vehicles and require a license endorsement to register one, similar to a motorcycle.

    Thoughts?

  18. I’d only want a bench seat in a lazy cruiser and a truck. You can still get them in trucks. I believe that the Ram still has a bench seat up front where the center section folds down to give you cup holders and storage. You can have it down and rest your arm or plop it up and have someone sit in the center if you need more room.

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