For about a decade now I have deliberately pursued an activist campaign against criminally negligent drivers who illegally use their phones while driving. I wrote about being physically assaulted by a bogan junkie phone driver in 2007, commented on phone driver entitlement in 2010, and briefly published a site identifying and shaming offending drivers in 2012.
In 2008 I designed an interactive online social engagement strategy to reduce phone driving. The Minister for Police, the Police Commissioner and the TAC were not interested. Nine years later, the concept is more relevant and required than then. I want one of these organisations to hire me to project manage its design, build and implementation. Seriously. I have twenty years experience publishing websites and studying user experience and engagement online. I could make it a success that other jurisdictions would be eager to copy.
In 2017 my safety as a cyclist was threatened on a notorious stretch of Sydney Rd by a dangerous negligent driver who would not acknowledge that she was using her phone while driving. I video every time I ride for my own protection. On this occasion I decided to make more of it. I want her to pay the penalty – 4 demerit points and a $466 fine.
When I got home I reviewed the video to see it I had remembered the events accurately. I had. I cut the video and wrote my article, then tweeted links to it to the Minister for Police, the Police Commissioner, the TAC and several Melbourne oriented cycling organisations. And the Age, as I recalled their previous articles about the dangers faced by cyclists on Sydney Rd.
I know that journalists monitor the accounts of politicians, especially ministers, and prominent organisations. This is where news often breaks and where leads to stories first emerge. My aim was to get a mainstream media company to express interest in my story and to get my video seen by a large audience.
Unfortunately the first response was the trashiest – Channel 9. I decided to go with it knowing they were likely to spin it and focus on road rage rather than dangerous driving, but that’s what you get with the gutter media. I had to expose myself to get what I wanted, which is not usually my style, but so be it.
They interviewed me during my lunchbreak on Monday and broadcast the hysterical story on Monday evening. I estimated that, as the mainstream media are such copycats, others would replicate it with no further effort on my part and I was correct. See News and the Age.
Today I turned down offers to be interviewed on Channel 7 Sunrise, Neil Mitchell on 3AW radio (seriously, radio? I don’t own or listen to a radio. What is legacy media?) and KIIS Fm with Dave Hughes and Kate Langbroek. The Age called and emailed to ask for permission to reuse my video, which I granted. I declined two offers from New York City media companies to pay me to license my video. I am an activist, and I’m not doing this for the money.
The inevitable trolling occurred on Twitter. I got a few nasty emails and comments on Fitzroyalty and other platforms. The best comment was ‘Its people like you who make the general populous lose hope in humanity.’ Bonus points for correct spelling – that’s a rarity.
The most moronic of them found out where I work and doxxed me by making a complaint about me to my employer. Nothing new there – I’ve been through that years before for a different reason. The separation between work and personal lives is another of the contemporary social issues I am most concerned by, and I have written about it several times.
I got a far more balanced, and diverse, response from the crowd on Reddit. Also, thanks to this guy for his positive response.
Saw this on TV this morning – good on you for filming it. Car drivers just don’t get it, same thing happened to me in Oxford all the time
— Alan Williamson (@AGBear) 19 June 2017
The gender, religion and ethnicity of the driver is something I have not commented on despite baiting on Twitter. It is not relevant. Her behaviour as a driver is the only relevant issue. When the incident started I yelled at a driver ahead of me who I could not see in the hope they they would not pull out into the road and hit me. I did not get a clear view of the driver until she wound down her window afterwards. I did not choose my response based on the characteristics of the driver. I simply reacted spontaneously in the circumstances.
I wonder if anyone has published research on intersectionality in terms of gender and class in relation to the bogan suburban masses? As it was in 2007, in 2017 men who witnessed or commented on the incident immediately stepped into patriarchal protection mode.
Why do these men need to infantilise and her puff themselves up to protect a woman they don’t know? She doesn’t need protecting. The driver is an adult with equal rights and equal responsibility. End of story.
Their behaviour is pathetic. There’s a lot of irony in a Twitter account with ‘KKK’ in its name complaining that ‘Should public servents be kicking little muslim womens cars’ [sic]. It’s all fully sick mate.
Why all the obfuscation? Because the bad behaviour of driving while on the phone has been normalised and is done by a significant percentage of the population. They have to reject criticism of their negative behaviour because they can’t process it alongside their positive self image. Our society simply doesn’t have the strength to deal with this bad behaviour, hence the endless justifications and excuses for this criminality. They’re all cowards.
Finally, I must apologise to the other Brian Wards in Melbourne. It may not be obvious but it is a common name and at least one other innocent observer has been receiving unsavoury messages on social media. Most of the stalkers are complete fucking amateurs. My Twitter account points to my site. It should be obvious which account is which. Leave the others alone. These are not the Brian Wards you are looking for…
I’m getting random messages on Facebook messenger which I’m guessing were in response to this. Wrong Brian ward!
— Brian Ward (@thebriward) 19 June 2017