Very interesting statistics reveal that drivers in this State are being watched by over 50,000-eyes by concerned citizens who are prepared to report bad driving behaviour to the police through 000.

The problem is the bad drivers don’t know it.

Unfortunately, there is a disproportionate response from VicPol to these community efforts, with only .09% of calls acted on, or only 45 calls in 12 months.

Of those 45 calls, several very serious offences were disclosed, and drivers were charged.

Whether data is collected incorrectly, the Police switch off these reports due to other priorities, or they are not explicitly allocated the task (accountability), so no one does anything. These are management matters that VicPol needs to address.

These figures are shocking and, if true, are an indictment of VicPol’s priority for road safety. We accept that the number responded to will always be limited as the caller is vague or similar, but not 99%.

Anything less than a 50% response would not be acceptable and raise serious concerns, but .09% is very serious.

We accept that many reported incidents are written off as ‘No Offence disclosed’ (NOD) or ‘Gone on Arrival’ (GOA), but not 99% without investigating the over 50,000 reported incidents. This is outrageous if anywhere near accurate.

This negative must be turned into a positive, hence ‘Road Watch’.

A ‘Road Watch’ community Police initiative will enable drivers who are perceived to be dangerous to be targeted.

Irresponsible drivers will be unaware of the number of other drivers watching them, and the old driver’s habit of watching the rearview mirror for police has long waned, simply due to the inability of the police to maintain a high profile on our roads.

There is a high probability that this effect is directly proportionate to the lack of police activity on our roads and the increased reliance on technology.

Whether the lack of Police on our roads is due to a capability issue, lack of resources or how the resources are used, VicPol must wrestle with these things. Nevertheless, the roads would be safer if all drivers knew their bad driving could be reported to the police.

The promotion of this initiative will warn drivers that they will not only have to look out for police, but there are 50,000 eyes in the community watching them and potentially reporting their behaviour behind the wheel, but they will not know which other vehicle on the road is a ‘Road Watch’ participant.

We are consistently told Police presence on the roads, particularly the highways, is very poor. With community help, bad driver behaviour can be influenced throughout the State, augmenting the lack of Police resources.

Significant flaws in the current process relating to failed service delivery need to be addressed urgently.

  • All calls must be allocated to an operational unit member; albeit the traditional overarching ‘Keep a look out for’ may be appropriate, the job still needs to be assigned and investigated. Keeping a lookout cannot be measured as an outcome.
  • The responsible member must contact the person making the report as soon as possible to enable the matter to be investigated. (Information from members of the public may not have been effectively passed via police comms.)
  • The outcome must be logged for management functions.
  • All data collected must be automatically cross-referenced to all reports to identify any driver patterns requiring attention.
  • All calls from the public about bad driving must be given a much higher priority and, with that, ensure greater accountability.

Moreover, how is it known whether the complainant has additional information, perhaps Dash-cam footage, that may help identify a driver if they are not contacted after their report? All these matters must be investigated.

This is all part of the Service Delivery Matrix, or should be.

The effectiveness of any Police Force is directly and intrinsically linked to the level of information from the public. Without public support, the Police become ineffective.

Public information and support regarding road users is critical.

The failure of the Police to contact all citizens motivated to contact the Police on 000 about bad drivers with an outcome for their efforts and to thank them for their diligence is inexcusable given its importance.

Not communicating with callers is counterproductive to fostering further help from the community and developing better and more productive Police Community interactions.

Informing all drivers that they are being watched will lead to better compliance.

‘Road Watch’

The CAA makes the following recommendations.

  • VicPol must respect the community’s efforts by elevating responses to callers to a higher priority.
  • All callers be advised to expect a phone call from the attending police.
  • All calls where a driver or vehicle is identified must be automatically cross-checked to other databases, enabling Police to take action against recidivist perpetrators.
  • VicPol immediately review the information gathered on 000 calls to provide accurate data.
  • All calls about bad drivers must be specifically allocated to members to investigate.
  • Members allocated calls must contact the complainants to
    • Discuss the incident for investigative reasons and
    • Thank the caller for their interest.
  • For management efficiency, the priority of all 000 ‘Road Watch’ calls must be allocated to a Highway Patrol unit, the Force traffic experts to investigate the issues.
  • Develop a high-profile Road safety campaign highlighting ‘Road Watch’ and the 50,000 eyes watching and reporting bad road users.

This last recommendation will inevitably motivate more community members to participate, which is a good outcome for reducing the frequency of impaired driving and promoting more respect for Police from the community.

The Road Toll can be directly attributed to impaired driving, so targeting this area is logical and sensible. With community support, a reduction in the toll is achievable.

Even if the outcome of an identified driver does not disclose an offence, a knock on the door from police to advise (rather than accuse) that their driving is inappropriate and was reported by other road users will suffice to correct many imperfect drivers.

It makes sense that Police efforts to reduce the road toll are targeted at bad drivers, who are inevitably the primary cause of the raging Road Toll.

‘Road Watch’ -50,000-eyes can be an effective weapon.