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Compulsory insurance is being considered as a way of cracking down on boy racers, Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven said today.

The Government has come under pressure from a mayoral task force to tighten liquor laws and laws around the licensing, purchasing and financing of "high performance cars" for drivers aged under 20.

The taskforce's 20 mayors called for a permanent ban on alcohol in all unlicensed public places and a "comprehensive review" of licensing and car purchasing laws following the deaths of young people in Christchurch and Mount Maunganui.

But Mr Duynhoven said today requiring compulsory third-party insurance for all drivers was more likely to have an impact on the behaviour of so-called boyracers.

He said: "That very soon changes behaviour because people realise they are not in a position to drive if they have a lot of speeding tickets, a lot of vehicle offences or a vehicle which is modified with a very high premium because if they misbehave their premiums then go through the roof."

Mr Duynhoven said research suggested raising the driving age would not make a difference, as it was a driver's experience, rather than their age which appeared the main factor in their safety record.

"Arbitrary" restrictions based on the power of a vehicle were also problematic as it would stop many youths in one-car families from driving the family car if it was a large car like a Ford or Holden.

"Should we say to the youngsters in that family 'you're not allowed to drive'?" he said.

Mr Duynhoven said New Zealand had an unusual mix of no compulsory third-party insurance, cheap second-hand high-performance cars from Japan and easy credit.

But he said some of the current measures were making a difference.

A 2003 law aimed at boyracers that gave police the power to impound vehicles for 28 days appeared to be working well with over 2000 cars impounded last year.

He said a measure used in some Australian states of crushing cars after a second offence was worth considering, but courts already had the power of permanent confiscation -- for vehicle offences and unpaid fines -- which he believed was superior.

- NZPA