Three unmarked HGVs have recorded more than 3,500 offences patrolling motorways and major A roads across England in the past year.
The vehicles, known as ‘supercabs’, have been funded by Highways England and have been used by 29 police forces in a safety initiative known as Operation Tramline.
They allow police officers to film evidence of unsafe driving behaviour by pulling up alongside vehicles, and drivers are then pulled over by police cars following a short distance behind.
The supercabs have a de-restricted speed limiter which means they can travel at speeds up to the national speed limit, and flashing lights have been installed for use by police forces in an emergency.
Footage of a lorry driver using his mobile phone to make a credit card payment as he travels along the M40 near Leamington Spa has been released by Highways England.
VIDEO: Trucker uses both hands to make a credit card payment on the M40
Other footage captured using the cabs in their first year included a van driver who was spotted with no hands on the wheel as he used one hand to change gear and the other to hold his mobile phone.
The incident happened as he travelled along the A38 near Derby, even though he pulled into a service station to stop just a few seconds later.
VIDEO: Van driver with no hands on the wheel on the A38
The driver of a pick-up truck was also filmed without his hands on the wheel as he travelled along the M60 near Eccles in Greater Manchester. The footage shows the driver with both hands on his phone as he writes a text message.
VIDEO: Pick-up truck driver uses both hands for text message on M50
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, said: “Operation Tramline is a successful collaboration between the police and Highways England.
“We remain committed to tackling those who take unnecessary risks with their own safety and the safety of others on our roads by allowing themselves to be distracted while driving.”
Around one in three of the drivers filmed breaking the law by the supercabs had someone in their vehicle not wearing a seatbelt, despite statistics showing that one in four people killed in car crashes in 2017 were not wearing seatbelts.
Drivers illegally using a mobile phone while driving was the second most common offence captured by the cabs, with the latest figures showing that mobile phone use is a factor in one death on the roads every 12 days.
The most common offences included:
- Not wearing seatbelt – 1,195
- Using mobile phone – 1,062
- Not in proper control of vehicle – 262
- Speeding – 118
Police officers issued 462 penalty charge notices and filed 2,533 traffic offence reports – usually requiring drivers to attend a driver education course. There were also 73 prosecutions for more serious offences.
Tom Cotton, the Road Haulage Association’s head of licensing and infrastructure policy, said: “We need to improve road safety – there’s a small minority of drivers whose actions endanger other road users often with tragic consequences.
“Operation Tramline is an invaluable initiative to help police catch the drivers putting themselves and others at risk.”
All three cabs are now being used for a week of action on the M1 to improve safety on England’s most used motorway.
Highways England’s traffic officers will also be joining forces with the emergency services from today (Monday, May 13) to provide free tyre checks and safety tips to drivers at motorway services by the M1.