Police launch 'Operation Crossroads'
Police have set up Operation Crossroads and warn holiday makers and partygoers about the dangers of driving while drunk, on drugs or tired.PT1M33S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2zuh2 620 349 December 23, 2013
Geelong footballer Billie Smedts has come under fire for taking a "selfie" at the wheel of a car and sharing the picture with thousands of followers on Instagram.
The picture shows Smedts, 21, snapping himself in the driver’s seat of his utility vehicle on a country road.
The picture, which has since been removed, was captioned: "Driving back to warrnambool for Christmas!!! #goproselfie,".
Caught out ... Billie Smedts' post on Instagram. Photo: Courtesy 3AW
The Transport Accident Commission and Victoria Police were in talks with the Geelong Football Club over the incident on Tuesday.
Smedts may face fines and demerit points following an investigation, Road Policing Command Superintendent Neville Taylor said.
"This sends a really bad message to all road users, particularly young people, to think it is OK to do this kind of behaviour," Superintendent Taylor said.
Billie Smedts the footballer. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
"It’s not just police who think this is outrageous behaviour - I haven’t spoken to the player as yet - but certainly we’re very pleased with the response we’ve got (from the club) and an indication that they’ll certainly be taking action about it."
Very disappointed with the Smedt's selfie. Taking your eyes off the road for 2 seconds at 50km/h, you will travel 27mtrs, effectively blind— TAC (@TACVictoria) December 23, 2013
A Geelong Football Club press release circulated late Tuesday morning stated Smedts "assured the club that the photo was in fact staged, and he was stationary and not driving while the image was taken".
"Nonetheless the club and Smedts understand that the his actions did not send the correct message to the public," the statement read.
"I understand that in taking and posting this image that it sends a poor and irresponsible message and I'm sorry for causing that," Smedts was quoted as saying.
"Road safety is something that is critical and should be taken seriously at all times. Christmas time is a particularly vulnerable time of the year, and even though I wasn't driving at the time and it was a staged shot, people seeing the photo could have thought it was real and wanted to copy it. That would be dangerous and could easily cause an accident."
Cats CEO Brian Cook expressed his concern at the stunt. "We take road safety seriously and like many others are disappointed that this image was taken and posted," Cook said.
"We will continue to educate our players and staff on the importance of road safety. We will further discuss this matter, however it will not be concluded until our player leadership group and playing list returns in early January."
Superintendent Taylor earlier said he did not think it mattered whether the car was moving at the time as the picture still sent the wrong message about road safety.
No stranger to controversy, Smedts made headlines in April when he and Josh Caddy were arrested at gunpoint after a prank on teammate Jackson Thurlow went terribly wrong.
The pair had intended to scare Mr Thurlow by breaking into his house wearing balaclavas, but went to the wrong house first.
Neighbours reported an attempted burglary and the pair were intercepted at Kardinia Park, although no charges were laid.
Police launched Operation Crossroads in a national effort to prevent road deaths on Monday.
"We know this is the high risk behaviour that causes the loss of lives on the roads and that’s why we wonder when we see this what would make someone think this OK," Superintendent Taylor said.