Media Release

Telstra Backs Down

SMS Speed Trap Service Scrapped

Wednesday 28 February 2001
PCA Calls on Governments to Legislate to Ban the Broadcasting of Locations of Speed Traps & Booze-Buses

The Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia today praised the Chairman of Telstra, Mr Bob Mansfield, for his swift and decisive action in withdrawing Telstra’s $5.50 per month, SMS service, which provides subscribers with the locations of police speed traps (copy of Telstra’s letter attached).

On 1 February 2001, Mr Scruby wrote to Mr Mansfield (copies of correspondence to Mr Mansfield and Premier Bob Carr attached) calling for the immediate banning of this service. Mr Scruby said: "In an utterly disgraceful display of profit before people, Telstra actually tried to farcically justify this ‘phoney’ service in the name of road safety. Mr Scruby added: "In most states, it is an offence to carry any device which warns the driver of speed traps, whether it is a radar device or a telephone. Magistrates have also convicted motorists who flash their lights warning other motorists of speed traps. Propitiously, only two weeks ago, a British truck driver was jailed for killing a pedestrian while sending a text (SMS) message to his girlfriend. The judge said it was hard to imagine a more blatant act of cold-blooded disregard for safety on the road. Telstra’s SMS would require motorists to look at a screen while driving, placing most drivers in precisely the same extremely dangerous predicament as the British truck driver.

Following publication of this case, Mr Scruby warned Telstra: "Should a death or serious injury occur during the use of this service, it would not take a very imaginative lawyer to join Telstra in a major punitive damages case, if the (British) case is any indication."

Mr Scruby said: "Furthermore, if Telstra or any other organisation engages in the practice of warning motorists of police speed traps, in the name of road safety, it must follow that these or other organisations will be able to justify the broadcasting of the locations of booze-buses or any other covert police enforcement operation.

"We call upon all radio stations involved in this spurious activity to immediately follow Telstra’s example and cease broadcasting such locations. And we call upon the Federal and State Governments to immediately legislate to ban the broadcasting of any police speed traps or booze-bus locations. NSW has just experienced the worst annual road toll in 5 years and the worst Christmas road toll in 10 years. Speed and drink driving are by far the major causes of death and injury. The only way to significantly reduce the road toll is for all drivers to slow down and to expect there will be a speed trap or booze-bus around every corner – and that the odds of being caught are very high. Broadcasting locations induces motorists to slow down in these locations, but feel safe to speed (or drink-drive) in others." Mr Scruby said.

Contact: Harold Scruby – Chairman/CEO (0418) 110-011 or (02) 9968-4555


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