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Visible police presence, not silly tricks, will make our roads safer

By Tim Robson, 15 Nov 2018 Car News

Visible police presence, not silly tricks, will make our roads safer

Coppers with squeegees? Sadly, coppers have become addicted to the easy lucre of hidden policing, and it needs to stop

Honestly… I don’t know why Victorians didn’t march on their parliament, tearing their rego papers in half, when their government announced it was reducing speeding offence tolerances to virtually zero a few years back.

In one fell swoop, the government of the day helped itself to untold millions of dollars in arguably unjustifiable fines, distanced itself from the actual job of creating a better, safer driving culture and created a zombie army of drivers trained to watch their speedos and not the road.

Read next: New tech to combat texting and driving

And now it seems Victoria is stepping things up again. As if hiding speed cameras in poorly-parked unmarked vehicles isn’t enough of a misery for people travelling at 114km/h in a 110km/h zone, now it seems that enabling is the name of the game, with widespread reports that street side window cleaners – you know, the ones that lean over your new car with keys in their pockets while endangering their own lives to make your windscreen dirtier – are being used to dob in mobile phone users to patrol cars up the way.

Seriously?

I’m actually not against the notion of dissuading drivers from being distracted from mobile devices. I actually looked at buying a cell signal blocker that would kill the ability to use a phone in a car, but apparently it’s a $12,500 federal telecommunications kind of ‘please don’t do that’ thing. I digress …

The Western Australian government spent an extra $20 million last year on more cops in more cars ... What have the Victorians done? Bought buckets and detergent.

The point is that these kinds of tactics are not the kind employed by an enforcement agency that’s genuinely looking to change behaviours. If you’re sent a ticket in the mail for a minor – I’m talking 4km/h in a 100km/h zone, and please keep the “they reduce the figure” nonsense to yourself – offence, it teaches you nothing but how to use BPay to sort out the fine.

Read next: How to use a mobile phone while driving

Equally, using a taxpayer-funded patrol car to cower behind a bush, pinging the radar like a tap-n-go machine at 200 metres, is just not right. Sure, the patrol boys and girls have KPIs like the rest of us, but maybe they should be adjusted.

How’s this for a start? ‘I maintain that I will add a minimum number of kilometres to my vehicle’s odometer each shift, with the sole aim of deterring offences before they occur via visible policing.’

Yes, visible policing. It’s not rocket surgery, is it? Put more brightly coloured cars with pretty flashing lights on top out in the daily mix, and watch people’s behaviour change for the better.

The Western Australian government, for example, spent an extra $20 million last year on more cops in more cars to counter a rising regional road toll. What have the Victorians done? Bought buckets and detergent.

Read next: Chrysler 300 SRT Core, BMW 530d confirmed for NSW Police

I don’t want my cops to be invisible! I don’t want BMW 530d patrol cars skulking down side roads! I can wash my own damn window! Get the coppers out there! Wear those expensive patrol cars out! Ever seen how slowly a convoy of commuters travels when they’re banked up behind something with blues and twos, even if it’s a canine unit divvy van?

I don’t envy the job of law enforcement agencies in controlling and reducing a road toll that should be going down much faster than it is. Equally, policing should be executed in a way that minor offenders are warned and lectured, while the real issues – drug driving, distracted driving and unroadworthy vehicles – can be better process with blue-clad bums on seats.