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THIS WEEK IN HISTORY: A reporter goes on patrol with Albany’s Road Traffic Authority

Headshot of Kasey Gratton
Kasey GrattonAlbany Advertiser
On February 2 in 1982, Advertiser reporter Tony Whitbread went on patrol with the Albany Road Traffic Authority team.
Camera IconOn February 2 in 1982, Advertiser reporter Tony Whitbread went on patrol with the Albany Road Traffic Authority team. Credit: Albany Advertiser

We’ve gone into our archives to find out what was making the news on February 2 in years past.

On this day in 1982, we published an account of reporter Tony Whitbread’s night going on patrol with members of Albany’s Road Traffic Authority team.

THEY’RE IN FRONT OF ROAD HOGS

Friday night for most people means the end of the working week and a welcome two-day break before returning to another five days of toil.

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Some people relax at home with a well earned drink, others visit friends and the younger ones hit the night spots.

Whatever the separate venues may be, there will always be cars on the road until the early hours of the morning.

For the RTA patrolmen, Friday night means the start of the two busiest nights of the week.

Friday nights, weekends and holiday periods are the busiest times for them and they forfeit their own enjoyment for the safety of the publiic.

As long as there are cars on the road the RTA patrolmen will be there.

They are not there to hassle the unerring motorist, as many people mistakenly believe, but to try and protect him and the innocent bystanders from the selfish person who thinks he can flout the law by driving dangerously, driving while drunk or driving a vehicle that is in an unsafe condition.

Each of these offences is potentially dangerous to an innocent person, the thing a selfish person never considers.

Wet weather made what was otherwise a typical night patrol a bit quieter than usual.

After a preliminary vehicle check and a check on the radar and radio equipment, Senior Constable Ray Nesbitt and First Class Constable Steve Verkerk left the Albany Police Station on their Friday night patrol.

At 8.30pm, the action started.

A car was checked by the radar at 95km per hour travelling along Golf Links Road.

The police car was travelling in the opposite direction.

The demountable blue flashing light was thrust on to the car roof in true Starsky and Hutch style and the car thrown into a tight turn in pursuit of the offending vehicle.

The pale blue flashing light added an eerie colour to the rapidly paling face of the offending driver as Steve Verkerk informed him of his speed and asked him for his driving licence.

A radio call from another patrolman in Middleton Road at 9.30pm resulted in an inspection of a vehicle considered to be unroadworthy.

The rear tyres on the vehicle were oversize and expensive.

So much so that it appeared the owner wanted to get the most for his money out of them.

The tread was worn wafer thin on most of the tyre with the inside shoulder being worn through to the steel belts.

Vehicle safety did not appear to be important to the car’s owner.

The patrol car was flagged down in York Street at about 10.10pm by two youths who were trying to stop a fully loaded furniture van from rolling into the back of a parked car.

The van had a Busselton licence plate and the driver was nowhere to be seen.

Snr Constable Nesbitt guided the truck into the kerb when it was found that the handbrake did not work.

A brick was placed under the wheel to help stop it rolling any further.

After another circuit of the town’s streets, the driver of the truck was spotted heading towards his vehicle.

When asked where he had parked his truck, the driver seemed rather vague and answered: “About where it is I suppose.”

A vehicle was stopped on York Street at about 12.15am when it was noticed the windscreen wipers were not working in the heavy rain.

The three women occupants of the car were not happy about being stopped and they certainly let the police know.

At 12.35pm, a motorist swung wide when cornering out of York Street into Peels Place, and nearly hit the median strip.

He was given a preliminary breath test and then taken to the police station for a complete breathalyser test.

The result was a blood alcohol content of 0.110 per cent which was calculated to be 0.104 at the time of being stopped.

At about 1.45am the radar equipment was packed away and the car filled with petrol for the next shift.

Another night’s work for the Albany RTA patrolmen.

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