Police tweet bad drivers’ excuses

Published in 24 Hours Vancouver & Sun News Network | July 11, 2013 | Circulation: 251,700 (24 Hours)

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One Lower Mainland police force is trying a cheeky new tactic to discourage bad drivers: embarrassing them online.

The Abbotsford Police Department took to Twitter Thursday with excuses from drivers they’d pulled over – including one insisting the cell phone they were using was actually a hamburger.

“I sent out email to our traffic members to send me any strange, peculiar anecdotes they’ve had from roadside conversations with drivers,” Const. Ian MacDonald told 24 Hours, “especially those who were not too pleased with getting tickets. There was no lack of material.”

The excuses included a motorist who tried to get out of a ticket by pleading he was a lawyer. “Excellent,” the cop replied, “I’m a policeman.”

MacDonald’s personal favourite?

“Ticketed driver: ‘My dad could buy you.’ #AbbyPD officer: ‘Get him to buy two of me, I could use the help.’”

Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Const. Sandra Glendinning applauded the effort as “very clever use” of social media.

“I wish we had thought of it first!” she said, pointing to her own force’s “Tuesday Traffic Questions” hashtag (#TTQ) — where police pose a traffic safety question and motorists guess the answer.

Abbotsford may be aiming for an online chuckle, but the campaign is part of the force’s safer driving efforts, which also includes an online video about pedestrian fatalities.

So why do motorists resort to often-ridiculous excuses?

“Something happens to a lot of people the minute they get behind the wheel of a car. People who are normally polite, courteous and low-key they don’t want to think they’ve done anything wrong even though in their hearts they know they have,” MacDonald said. “Sometimes people just blurt out stupid things.

“Our motivation is not just to get people to laugh, but to get people to talk about road safety.”

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