The X-factor was again in the news this week, the manner in which Treyc Cohen was eliminated and Katie Waissel was saved has evoked heated debate across the nation. Almost everyone has an opinion with some fans saying they will boycott the show. Television is a powerful medium – did any one watch Channel 4 ‘Coppers’ last Tuesday (9 Nov 2010)? Why has this not provoked a similar response? If you missed it the programme followed the Traffic police.

Firstly I have to say I think the police do a good job, I wish there were a few more officers especially traffic police. However, a few things struck me about the programme. A man who was obviously from a privileged background, was arrested for being over the alcohol limit for driving, he seemed to treat the whole thing as a joke. I know his judgement was affected by alcohol, but this is just one example of how we in road safety have got to change attitudes towards driving. I am sure if he had murdered someone and treated the arrest as a big joke, we would have had seen a few more column inches of newspaper print dedicated to this TV programme.

The something else I found disappointing about the programme was how one police officer, talking about how he enjoys handing out fixed penalty notices to motorists. Although I agree persistent offenders need to be punished, I would like to see police officers using education as their first course of action. What has a driver learnt from receiving a ticket for speeding or using a hand held phone, apart from he/she was unlucky to get caught? If the driver was stopped and instead of been given a ticket was given a talk on why their driving was dangerous, this would go a lot further in changing attitudes. Of course there are ways to talk to a driver – ask any fleet trainer, they have to be so careful not to knock a driver’s ego! If we want the police to take an active role in educating drivers, first we should educate the police on how to talk to drivers, some already do it well but sadly some are very bad at it.

The part of the show which should change driver’s attitudes was the interviews with the husband, who had sadly lost his wife in a car crash and the police officers who were involved in dealing with fatal crashes. I say should change attitudes, but I fear it won’t because 10 minutes after the show most people would have forgotten how they felt while watching those interviews, after all there are more important things in life like the X-Factor!

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