Police admit being wrong over truck-driver

Police have admitted a truck driver was wrongly blamed for causing a crash featured in a road safety campaign.

The driver was not on his mobile phone, as claimed in a caption over the video footage of the accident.

The video was published online at the weekend and features real footage of crashes on New Zealand roads.

One shows a car clip the front of a truck as it begins to merge lanes, then hit a car driven by former police officer Simon Cathcart. Mr Cathcart's car is then shunted into the path of the truck, causing it to barrel-roll.

The words "This truck driver was on his phone" flash over the screen seconds before the clip of the horror crash - but police now concede the driver was not on his phone at all.

"There was a simple misunderstanding over the information supplied with the video, which led to the wrong caption being used. We can confirm there was no mobile phone involved," a police statement said.

Mr Cathcart told the Herald he couldn't believe the truckie had been blamed when another motorist eventually faced charges over the accident.

After the story was published in the Herald yesterday police changed the caption to "take care when changing lanes", and Superintendent Carey Griffiths called Mr Cathcart and the truck driver to apologise.

There was no intention to mislead the public or identify any driver, Mr Griffiths said.

"Now that somebody has chosen to identify themselves and the incident, police have updated the video based on the new information received, and hopes that it will continue to encourage road users to drive safely."

Mr Cathcart said he appreciated Mr Griffiths' phone call and supported the police campaign. "He just said 'look, we have got it wrong and we will be changing the ad to reflect the reality', which was never my intention. It was just to make sure the truck driver was not bearing the brunt of it, because he had nothing to do with it."

Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley said there had been no evidence mobile phone use was the prime cause of the accident.

"This video doesn't just malign the driver, it reflects on all the responsible truck drivers who are serious about being safe on the road."

Mr Shirley said video clips could be useful tools to promote road safety but needed to be accurate. "When they screen something and misinterpret it we find that disturbing."

 

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