SCARIEST sight I have seen while cycling around York recently was an enormous lorry negotiating a roundabout at speed while the driver clamped a mobile phone to one ear.
The truck was British and I am guessing that the driver with only one hand holding the massive steering wheel was, too.
I recalled this frightening image when I saw a recent Daily Mail front page featuring pictures of NINE lorry drivers using mobile phones while driving. So far, so good for the power of the press.
Those drivers were among 17 dangerous idiots the newspaper photographed on the busy M20 in Kent that day. Good work, Daily Mail, you will chorus.
“Eyes glued to their phones, these truckers are gambling with people’s lives,” the report began, reasonably enough. Driving while handling your mobile phone is a crime. Far too many people do it.
So yes, well done to the Mail – but only up to a point.
The Mail’s story followed the tragic events which led to a Polish lorry driver being jailed for killing an entire family while distracted on his mobile phone. So Its front page went to war, highlighting foreign truck drivers (presumably straight off the Channel ferries) using their mobiles while driving. The paper said the 17 foreign drivers were snapped in a period of 90 minutes.
Now while this clever ‘scoop’ is perfectly legitimate – and a massive public service – it is also inflammatory: why pick only on foreign drivers?
The Mail’s simple logic is flawed: a foreign driver caused one tragic accident, so foreigners are alwaysto blame. And Tomasz Kroker WAS to blame, no doubt about that. Film footage from inside his cab showed him scrolling through music on his phone before he ploughed into stationary traffic on the A34 in Berkshire. A mother, 45-year-old Tracy Houghton, her sons Ethan, 13, and 11-year-old Josh, and step-daughter Aimee Goldsmith, 11, died instantly.
To have killed four people through a moment’s inattention is truly awful, and yet framing this as a problem only caused by foreign lorry drivers is wanton carelessness.
It migh be that foreign truckers are more careless with their mobiles than indigenous drivers, but do we KNOW that or is the Mail just using one tragic case as another way to have a go at foreigners?
Our home-grown idiots exist and present as much danger as do foreigners. It is wrong to present this as a one-sided problem
The Mail knows the problem is widespread because it launched an ‘End The Mobile Madness’ campaign in September after an RAC survey revealed the “shocking scale of illegal phone use by drivers”. In the past ten years, more than 200 Britons have been killed by drivers distracted by their phones.
So, why just point the finger of blame at only foreign drivers? This is a newspaper that often seems report Muslims in a negative light, mentioning, for example, an offender’s religion when immaterial to a court case. Many have believed that in years past the Mail did something similar in highlighting crimes where the perpetrators were black; a strange contradiction from the newspaper that did so much to bring to justice the killers of the black student Stephen Lawrence.
All this should make us feel uncomfortable. Pointing the finger of blame purely at foreign lorry driver harks back to days of old-fashioned, xenophobic resentment-stirring.