On the blog: Working towards a zero road toll

Sergeant Stephen Booth

Sergeant Stephen Booth has been with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for 17 years, working entirely within the many portfolios of ACT Policing.  After seven years as a Constable in General Duties, Traffic Operations and Criminal Investigations, he was promoted in 2007 to the rank of Sergeant. He has spent the next decade leading teams in General Duties, City Beat patrols, the ACT Watchhouse and Traffic Operations. 

In 2011 Sergeant Booth deployed to New Zealand as part of the assistance mission following the devastating earthquake in the City of Christchurch, and was awarded the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal for his contributions.  In 2015 he was awarded the ACT Ambulance Service Chief Officer’s Commendation for his response to a cardiac arrest victim.

Sergeant Booth is currently a Team Leader in the Collision Investigation and Reconstruction Team.

If you ask the average punter they’ll tell that all traffic cops do is drink coffee, eat doughnuts and revenue raise for the government by giving fines to hardworking people. 

The reality is actually much simpler: We keep you safe on the road. And drink coffee.

Driving motor vehicles is such an ingrained part of society that we could scarcely function without them. What people so often don’t realise, or forget, is that driving a 2-tonne metal box on a road can be dangerous, even deadly if it all goes wrong. 

The mission of Traffic Operations is to achieve zero fatalities on Canberra’s roads. The 56 men and women across three teams including the Collision Investigation and Reconstruction Team, Mobile Traffic and Road Safety Operations see the dark side of motoring every day. We know the price of road trauma is more than just money or statistics. It’s real people, families, friends. It’s people we know. It’s our community. Real tragedy, real loss. These police are experts in their fields, with state-of-the-art equipment and world-class training, they have dedicated their careers to reducing the road toll and trauma in the ACT. We want only for you to get where you are going safely. 

Traffic Operations work in partnership with ACT Government agencies such as Justice and Community Safety to support the ACT Government’s Road Safety Strategy. We provide high visibility patrols and undertake specific targeted operations to ensure ACT roads are safe for all road users. We enforce traffic law in line with the priority focus of the ACT Road Safety Calendar.

September’s road safety focus is 'driver distraction'. Mobile phones are by far the greatest driver distraction police see contributing to unsafe driving practises, inattention and collisions. No phone call or text is worth dying for. Plus it will cost you up to $511 when we catch you. That makes for an expensive conversation. This year alone, ACT Policing has handed out more than 850 Traffic Infringement Notices and Cautions for mobile phone use.

The majority of people do the right thing and to those people we say thank you, but for those that aren’t - put the phone down. Seriously, it’s 2016. Stop it.

Other distractions include driving without a clear view, drive with pets on the drivers lap, driving with unnecessary noise or passengers obstructing the drivers view, driving without proper control or with a television or device likely to distract.

Traffic Operations monitors motorist behaviours using specific tools and instruments, such as speed detection and alcohol screening devices. They also collate and analyse intelligence related to traffic violations. We work with the Road Transport Authority to improve public safety by identifying road design faults, contributing factors in collisions and ensuring vehicles driven on ACT Roads are safe and comply with road standards.

The team also works closely with front line police officers, and partners with interstate police forces to carrying out joint operations.

Our methodology uses data obtained from the ACT Governments Crash Report to place resources from Traffic Operations and General Duties on the road at peak collision times, days and locations to reduce the road toll.

We found this strategy received positive feedback around hi-visibility of police on the roads and increased traffic enforcement engagements. For example, in July this year, random drug tests jumped to 216 compared to 37 from July last year and Traffic Infringement Notices were up 50 per cent. 

I’m very proud of the outstanding work our officers do on the road every day to ensure Canberra drivers are safe from people who would risk their own lives and the lives of others.