RCMP Supt. Norm Gaumont has two words for Metro Vancouver residents who plan to tweet CounterAttack roadblock locations on Twitter.
“If people want to tweet and let people know we’re out there looking for impaired drivers, go ahead,” the head of Lower Mainland traffic services said Wednesday, in the wake of media reports about Twitter being used in cities across Canada to warn drivers about the checkpoints.
“I think it’s great. The reality is, all you do is (raise the) profile the roadside checks.”
(Drivers should not text or tweet while behind the wheel, however, or they could face a $167 fine).
Police use multiple strategies to counter impaired driving, Gaumont noted, from using unmarked vehicles to hunt drivers who have been drinking, to setting up on side roads near a roadside check to catch drivers attempting to escape police scrutiny.
Roadblocks also move around constantly.
Gaumont said police hopes tweets will let drivers who drink know police are out there looking for them, and that they’ll choose to take a taxi, transit, or a sober driver instead of getting behind the wheel.
Dave Teixeira, a Metro Vancouver social media and communications consultant, thinks some people are over-estimating the online tool’s potential use to avoid roadblocks.
“Number one – you have to be looking at it. Number two, you have to be following someone who is tweeting about roadblocks,” Teixeira said.
While he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to help drinking drivers elude the police, he notes that prior to Twitter, drivers had other ways of warning other motorists about roadside checks.
“This is the 21st century way of flashing your headlights to warn others,” he said, adding CB radios were another way drivers used to give each other the head’s up.
Warnings about speed traps or HOV lane checks are given out all the time in traffic reports, Teixeira added.
Whether you’re a social media aficionado or not, Gaumont said the best way to avoid worrying about police roadblocks is to plan ahead for a safe ride home, whether it be a cab, Operation Red Nose, transit or a designated driver.