Road safety is no joke, as we have tragically seen this week, but traffic officers are increasingly using humour as a tool to spread the message that bad driving can have horrific consequences.
We are used to seeing hard-hitting TV adverts warning us what might happen if we drink and drive or speed, but social media is allowing our county’s officers to try new methods to reach a different audience.
This is true of the BCH (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire) Road Policing Unit which regularly posts photos of cars they have seized due to the drivers committing various offences – anything from drink driving to not taxing their vehicle.
The posts can be accompanied by sarcastic comments or emojis for added effect. Explaining the reason for this, Sgt Ian Manley, tri-force casualty reduction sergeant, said: “People are switching from traditional media streams of monitoring the news to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so we are branching out. Our Twitter feed has around 16,000 followers.
“We can be a bit tongue in cheek, but the message is around road safety which we want to get to a wider audience. We will always be professional.
“The likelihood is, if you see something funny you will tell someone else. If one person tells 10 friends that’s 11. Then if they tell other friends you’re up to 100.
“It shows we are trying to reduce people getting killed on the roads, trying to make people aware of what we are doing. If you do not know where we are, and you know what we are looking for, the likelihood of you committing an offence is a lot less.”
So far this year in Peterborough there have been more than 1,200 traffic offences, around three times the number in Cambridge.
Despite that, Sgt Manley insists the city is no worse than elsewhere in the county but has key transport routes which are used regularly.
The Peterborough Telegraph is campaigning for tougher sentences for drink and drug drivers who kill on the road. Although Sgt Manley declined to give his view on sentencing powers, he said: “The reason for legislation is to keep people safe and to reduce people killed or seriously injured on the roads. Every year across the country there are around 1,500-2,000 road deaths. Our vision is to bring that down to zero.”