Everything you need to know about Highway Patrol

Highway Patrol
Photo: Channel 7 Australia

Highway Patrol is an Australian factual television series which airs on the Seven Network. The show first premiered in September 2009. The show follows members of the Victoria Highway Patrol (which was formerly called the Traffic Management Unit). The show documents the Highways patrols as they intercept traffic and other criminal offenders and enforce traffic laws on the roads throughout Victoria, Australia. The show has aired eleven seasons, the eleventh season premiered in August 2019.

Highway Patrol police
Photo: Channel 7 Australia

What is the format of Highway Patrol?

The television program Highway Patrol follow the police unit as they investigated major road accidents, high-speed police chases and drunk driver confrontations. It also documents the police issuing lesser penalty notices to drivers after a variety of traffic offences.

Every episode of the show features a select few incidents which involve various officers. The format of the show usually involves capturing the first encounter between the officers and the person involved in an incident and offense, through to the officers leaving the scene.

Sometime the show follows the officers when they escort a driver back to the police station for breath or blood sampling. A voice-over will usually cite any fines, court convictions or demerit point’s issues or resulting from the incident shown in the program.

Highway Patrol crew
Photo: Channel 7 Australia

The show is produced by the production company Greenstone TV who are also responsible for the creation of the show Motorway Patrol, which airs in New Zealand. The show has been developed in cooperation with the Victorian Police and premieres on the Seven Network. The show is broadcast on 7TWO and 7mate, and is also syndicated on the subscription television service FOX8. The show is aired internationally in New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.

The show initially aired in 2009. A second season of the show was commission the same year and premiered at the beginning of 2010. A seventh season of the show was announced in 2014 and season eight of the show began filming in the same year, with plans to air it in 2016. Season ten started airing in 2018.

Highway Patrol officer
Photo: Channel 7 Australia

Controversy surrounding Highway Patrol

The show has received mixed reviews. Some Australian’s feel that it offers a great insight into the inner working of the traffic patrol police force and allows regular Australian’s to get a better understanding of how their tax dollars are being spent and the role of the police force. Many viewers feel it gives Australian’s a behind the scenes understanding of police officers and their thought processes, and also that it increases the transparency of the Australian police force.

Many people feel that shows like this help to contribute to the honesty of government departments and increases trust amongst members of the Australian public. It is also believed that the show helps build empathy amongst members of the public and a better understand amongst members of the public about what kinds of tasks and people the police force deal with on a daily basis. Other people feel that the show is sensationalist and a propaganda vehicle for justifying revenue raising activities by the Victorian police force. Many people feel that the show is an effort to justify fines and enforcement measures for traffic crimes and criminal offenses.

Other people feel that the show unfairly portrays the police force as the good guys, and shows a biased view of their activities. Some people feel that issues such as police brutality are ignored or glossed over by the show. Other people feel that the show focuses on a small number of violent or aggressive incidents on the road, and ignores the many people who are compliant and respectful when dealing with the police force.

Certain criticisms about the traffic enforcement police force are also connected with the show. Many people feel that the common critiques of the police are ignored by the show.

Here are some example season summaries;

Highway Patrol Season 1

The first season of Highway Patrol consisted of ten episodes. The first episode dealt with introducing the officers and the nature of their daily job. The force was introduced as taking on a particularly dangerous type of offender, those in vehicles. The second episode saw the police question an unlicensed driver which resulted in a scuffle. In episode two they also pull over a driver on the phone and catch a driver going over the speed limit. In episode three there is a high speed chase, a car impounding and a driver pulled over for speeding. Episode four deals with hooning, whilst episode five features a drunk driver report, a speeding driver and a driver who is caught running a red light. In episode 6 a driver is pulled over with an unrestrained toddler and another driver using borrowed number plate’s finds out they were stolen, whilst a Maserati driver gets caught on the phone. Later in episode seven, a Senior Constable almost gets pricks by a needle during a search of a car, a cop gets called in as backup, a car runs a red light and smashes into another car whilst a youth yells at one of the officer’s. Episode eight features a high speed chase and a P plater who is not displaying his plates for an unusual reason. In episode 9 the officers at a booze bus operation encounter a pregnant woman who was too drunk to walk, a speeding driver and a driver who gets busted doing doughnuts. During the final episode, the police force deal with a serious accident and an unregistered car.

Highway Patrol Season 2

The second season of the show featured a show down at a burger stop, a motorcycle chase and a fight between an officer and a motorist who almost hit another officer by speeding through a breath-tester road block. Another officer receives and indecent proposal from a passenger after pulling over a driver for not wearing a seatbelt. Another police officer pulls over a teenager for driving his mum’s car and a passenger is caught after stealing a taxi to avoid paying the fare. An unlicensed 17 year old boy is pulled over, and the mother admits to giving him permission to use the car whilst another car is pulled over with a small child in the back sharing a seatbelt. One driver is caught giving false details to an officer. A drunk driver is caught on their way back from McDonalds.

Highway Patrol Season 3

Highlights from season 3 which premiered in 2012, include a motorbike chase involving two bikes. A hit and run in episode three, a car accident involving two trucks and a motorbike, a head on collision, a serious high speed collision and several unlicensed drivers.

Highway Patrol Season 4

Season 4 premiered in the same year and featured a driver who crashed his car into a garden. A cyclist caught doing a wheelie who then tries to evade the police. A number of speeding offenders, a horrific car crash which involves pulling the wreckage from a tree, a number of unregistered vehicles and a P-Plater who has multiple offenses on his record.

There have been many seasons of the show since it first premiered which feature similar crimes and offenses.

What do you think about it?