A FEW weeks ago I stumbled across a story, written by Goya Dmytryshchak, on theage.com.au. The headline read: “Driver six times over limit, man has car impounded after burnout in Melbourne's west” (The Age Online, 6 June 2015).
So, a drunk driver was caught doing a burnout? That’s what the headline says, yeah? Well, that’s what The Age wants you to believe.
It’s actually two completely unrelated incidents pulled from police press releases. What The Age has done is ‘cleverly’ merged two stories into one headline, separated by the use of a strategically placed comma.
The first half of the story involves a drunk driver that was six times over the legal limit; an obvious danger to everyone else on the road. He deserved to have the book thrown at him for knowingly placing so many lives at risk. When you’re six times over the limit you know you’re pissed and you don’t drive home. If you drink then drive, you’re a bloody idiot!
The second story is very different and doesn’t come close to the seriousness of drink-driving, yet The Age has bundled the two together.
The driver wasn’t a young and inexperienced P-plate driver and he wasn’t drunk. He was a sober 44-year-old who’d probably held a driver’s licence for a couple of decades, so he should have a reasonable set of driving skills. (Okay, maybe not, but he didn’t crash so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt).
Sure, he lost traction, but not control – and he didn’t crash or cause anyone else to have an accident.
For all we know, the roads may have been wet (the article makes no mention of the weather or road conditions). And according to the article, he only went a short distance before the wheel/s stopped spinning. “Police say the car spun its wheels from the lights to the middle of the intersection,” the article says.
Wow, so he spun the tyres all the way “to the middle of the intersection”! What’s that? A few metres, perhaps five metres, maybe even 10? Woo-bloody-dipdidly-hoo! Unless the side of the road was lined with dozens of primary school kids holding onto little rabbits that all died of fright because of this bloke spinning his tyres, then I fail to see how this incident compares to, or is related to, or should ever have been linked in any way to, a drunk driver six times over the limit.
Quite apart from the fact that there was no drunken hoon doing a burnout, as the headline infers, the article has other issues. It says: “Police saw a Holden Commodore doing a burnout on the Melton Highway at the intersection with the Calder Freeway. Police say the car spun its wheels from the lights”.
Fact is there are no traffic lights at that location. It’s a Ring Road freeway interchange point and not an intersection. There haven’t been traffic lights there for years (if ever). The nearest lights are about two kilometres away. Now that’s quite a big hole in the facts, if you ask me.
Yes, if it’s true and he did do a burnout then he broke the law. But to bunch it in the same category as drink driving is insane. Unless the police can display real data on deaths from burnouts (which they can’t), then I think it’s a petty law anyway. It no doubt cost the driver thousands of dollars in fines, as well as holding fees for his impounded car.
I wonder how much the drunk driver got fined, and whether he also lost his car to the impound system?
I’m still mystified as to how this story made it into such a massive newspaper. Is one bloke doing a chook scratch across an intersection really worthy of state-wide news coverage? No, it’s just another hoon/burnout beat-up story.
*Photo for illustration only and does not relate to the incidents in this article.