Irresponsible drivers have been caught breaking the law and endangering lives in a new safety initiative.
Over the past 16 months, almost 2,700 drivers have been stopped for unsafe driving by a HGV cab, loaned by Highways England to police forces across England.
Footage has now been released, taken by Cheshire Police, of a driver on the M6 using two phones at the same time, with one phone to his ear in his left hand while he texted on another phone in his right hand. The video is available to watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49meWyuHvak.
The elevated position of the cab allows police officers to film unsafe driving behaviour. Drivers are then pulled over by police cars following behind.
The initiative has proved so successful that the cab was demonstrated to police forces from across Europe at the European Traffic Police Network (TISPOL) annual road safety conference at Manchester Airport on Wednesday 5 October.
One man in Surrey told officers he needed to use his mobile phone to call his new girlfriend after ‘their song’ came on the radio. Another driver in Kent was spotted watching a DVD while at the wheel; a motorist in Surrey was seen boiling water in a kettle on his dashboard; and a driver in Hampshire was seen reading a book.
Anthony Thorpe from Highways England’s Incident Prevention Team said:
“The vast majority of drivers pay attention when they’re on a motorway but a minority are putting themselves and others at risk by not driving safely.
“We’ve been loaning out the HGV cab to police forces to help improve safety and are delighted that the initiative is making a real difference and protecting motorists.
“It’s astonishing and worrying that drivers have got into bad driving habits and are using their mobile phones, watching DVDs or even boiling a kettle while driving.”
Since the safety scheme began in April 2015, 3,494 offences have been spotted. Nearly half related to the unsafe use of mobile phones, and over a fifth involved drivers not wearing seatbelts.
In September, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced motorists using their mobile phones while driving will soon face much tougher penalties. Anyone calling, texting or using an app while at the wheel will face higher on the spot fines and more points on their licence than they do today.
A total of 25 police forces took part in the HGV safety cab initiative during its first 16 months. Officers gave verbal advice to 247 drivers, issued 693 fixed or graduated penalty notices, and filed 2,186 traffic offence reports – usually requiring drivers to attend a driver education course. There were also 34 prosecutions for more serious offences.
Reasons for stopping drivers included:
- Using Mobile Phones – 1,663
- Not Wearing Seatbelts – 749
- Not In Proper Control Of Vehicle – 173
- Speeding – 160
- Driving Under Influence Of Drink or Drugs – 7