Police unhappy with Today Tonight story

By David Knox on May 29, 2013 / Filed Under News 6

2013-05-29_0111Victoria Police is “less than impressed” with a story on Today Tonight on Tuesday on obscure road rules.

The story by Clare Brady was seemingly harmless, telling viewers about the potential for fines for drinking coffee or eating whilst you’re driving, walking  three metres from an unlocked car, or using the car horn when greeting someone. It was a light piece on road rules that filled a few minutes of the Seven public affairs show.

“We are trying to make sure people actually obey these rules to make everybody on the road safe, including those who are driving, their passengers, other road users and pedestrians,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter told the show.

But it has managed to get the show offside with Victoria Police which says it “misled, and then comprehensively misrepresented a senior Victoria Police officer.” Ouch.

In a blog on its website, Victoria Police claims the program pitched for an interview about the critical issue of ‘driver distraction’, with a strong emphasis on the importance of not driving whilst on the phone.

“Indeed this was the context in which Acting Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter agreed to the interview and made his comments,” it notes.

“So it came as quite a surprise to see that the package had almost nothing to do with road safety, and instead focused on fines for trivial matters such as leaving your car unlocked, accidentally splashing pedestrians, and unnecessary use of the horn.

“The implicit suggestion was of course that police should have far more pressing matters to be attending to than booking drivers for menial offences.

“And that’s something we’d agree with. Our focus is on the big picture – preventing the shocking trauma associated with unnecessary loss of lives on our roads.”

While current affairs shows have previously been accused of far more serious misrepresentation than this one, getting offside with Victoria Police is in nobody’s interests for future stories and social media now affords everybody a right of reply.

Today Tonight might have thought they were having some fun with Victoria Police, but we won’t take the deliberate misrepresentation of our senior members lightly,” they said.

Roger that, constable.

6 Comments »

  1. byeana May 29, 2013 at 2:02 pm -

    Now I’ve emptied my old Maca’s sundae soft serve plastic cup, lid and spoon, along with my Hungry Jacks poly coffee cup, from my inbuilt cup holders and swept the pie crust flakes (among many other strange dried things?) from my seat covers, centre console and floor carpets etc, I feel it’s a little safer to say the following….Sometimes these obscure little known offences, are introduced because of data collected “After sometimes Fatal or Life Altering events” including those left to suffer afterwards (also including stolen unsecured vehicles of varying pre- modern vintages etc), or simply sometimes used to pull over a vehicle and get a so called foot in a vehicle door (sic).

    But my concerns are that such comments by such a senior police officer, seems to be a little one sided, regarding the Road Safety Initiatives, these same senior officers “Mutually” solicit from these same networks prior to heavy holiday traffic/weather events periods( ski season, flooding etc.).

    But based on many years of my/our own experiences during “Lights and Sirens single person Hot Runs” using hand held comms in in an era prior to, the modern hands free comms of today, why wasn’t it just as officially dangerous back then as it is now publicly deemed to be today, I sincerely hope it is being policed entirely for safety reasons and not revenue, and yes perhaps I was just as guilty back then, as was the h/way patrol guy in front of me at the counter, if we drank our coffee and ate our Maca’s in transit between jobs.

  2. Pertinax May 29, 2013 at 1:13 pm -

    There is no point in having a law for leaving a car unlocked it is stupid and will only be used to selectively punish people who are careless and do no harm to others. It’s not even doors that stop cars being stolen anymore it is engine immobilisation systems.

    Politicians are always making up more laws and regulations but never get around to abolishing the outdated and stupid ones.

    And fortunately we don’t live in a police state so the Victorian Police don’t get to decide what we watch on television.

  3. Secret Squirrel May 29, 2013 at 12:44 pm -

    If that’s how it went down (saying that it’s going to be about mobile phone’s while driving) then TT have done a bait-and-switch on the Vic Police and it’s no wonder they’re p!ssed.

    @Craig – I don’t think the law applies if you’re in someone’s driveway. I always lock my car when I’m paying for fuel. I can see that they’re trying to reduce vehicle theft but fining stupid or gullible people isn’t the solution. That’s what the Nigerian scam is for.

  4. Jason May 29, 2013 at 12:30 pm -

    They’d better not upset TT. Next story will be on how Police park illegally to go into food shops, exceed speed limits and Stop signs (all on non-callouts), use railway station car parks marked “Railway Commuters Only” as staff car parks for nearby Police Station, etc., etc.

  5. deedeedragons May 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm -

    Putting my tinfoil hat on for a second, perhaps the police don’t want the public to know they can be fined for things like that.

  6. Craig May 29, 2013 at 7:52 am -

    How many people here have not locked their car and walked away from it? Whether its to go to the door of a house or talk to someone on the side walk, 3m is not a long distance and I totally disagree with this law. It should be when out of sight of the person driving/holding the keys.

    Besides most cars now have automatic arming so the anti-theft devices kick in after a few seconds and some now have smart keys where the car won’t start when the keys are a few meters from the car and even lock the doors.

    But when in doubt I lock my car, even to pay for fuel.

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