Geelong footballer Billie Smedts has apologised for posting a picture of himself on social media with both hands off the wheel on a country road in Victoria.
Smedts fitted a camera to a pole to snap a photo of himself behind the wheel, posting the photo to his 10,000 followers on Instagram on Monday.
The photo appears to show Smedts steering his vehicle with his knees while he posted the caption: “Driving back to warrnambool for Christmas.”
Geelong Football Club released a statement this afternoon, saying Smedts assured the club that the photo was staged and he was not driving while the image was taken.
Smedts said despite the vehicle being stationary, his actions did not send the right image to the public.
“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 said in the statement.
Smedts said road safety 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,” he said.
“That would be dangerous and could easily cause an accident.”
Geelong Football Club’s chief executive Brian Cook said he understands why the image has caused consternation.
“We take road safety seriously and like many others are disappointed that this image was taken and posted,” Mr Cook said in a statement.
Mr Cook said the club will continue to educate its 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,” he said.
Police Superintendent Neville Taylor says the photo is disappointing and sends a bad message to road users.
“It’s absolutely stupid behaviour. It’s the kind of behaviour that can cost lives on the road,” Supt Taylor said.
“Whether he was driving at the time or not, it sends a really bad message to all road users particularly young people to think it’s okay to do this kind of behaviour.”
Transport Accident Commission (TAC) chief executive officer Janet Dore says she is astounded by the image.
“It’s so disappointing to see players behaving this way,” she told Fairfax radio.
“When so many of his colleagues have been really good role models. I wonder what his parents would think if he had lost control of the car driven off the road into a tree and died.”
One follower of Smedts commented: “Hmmm. Seriously hope the cops or footy club don’t see this. TAC would not be too happy. A cousinly tip – take it down.”