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
"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."