HGV helps police forces detect dangerous motorists

12.00 | 12 October 2016 | | 6 comments

A HGV cab loaned to police forces across England by Highways England has helped officers stop almost 2,700 dangerous drivers over the last 16 months.

As part of an initiative by the Government body, 25 police forces have used the HGV safety cab since April 2015.

In total, 3,494 offences have been spotted by officers. Nearly half of those related to the unsafe use of mobile phones, and over a fifth involved drivers not wearing seatbelts.

Reasons for stopping drivers included:

  • Using mobile phones – 1,663
  • Not wearing seatbelts – 749
  • Not in proper control of vehicles – 173
  • Speeding – 160
  • Driving under influence of drink or drugs – 7

Officers have given 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 have also been 34 prosecutions for more serious offences.

Highways England says the elevated position of the cab allows police officers to film unsafe driving behaviour. Offending drivers are then pulled over by police officers in cars following behind.

Cheshire Police, one of the forces involved in the initiative, has released footage (featured) 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.

One driver in Surrey said 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.

The HGV initiative was demonstrated to police forces from across Europe at the European Traffic Police Network (TISPOL) annual conference at Manchester Airport on 5 October.

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.”




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    Honor, to back up your claim in the fifth paragraph of your post below, perhaps you could provide a few links to evaluation reports which show that seat-belt laws (in isolation from other concurrent changes) were responsible for significant reductions as you suggest. Thanks.

    Charles, England
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    All credit to HE for providing the resource for this scheme of work. As a major user of the HE network HGV drivers need to know that they are not immune to prosecution, for whatever offence they commit.

    Iain Temperton – Norfolk
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    Not wearing a seatbelt does not necessarily mean a driver is “more dangerous” in terms of causing a crash but it does mean that in the event of a crash, they are many times more likely to be seriously injured or killed – making them a danger to themselves.

    Their treatment will present a significant avoidable cost to the emergency services and the NHS and also to their families, work colleagues and employers.

    Through our democratic system we have decided that wearing a seatbelt is a mandatory requirement in order for drivers to take this reasonable measure to reduce their risk of injury.

    Around 95% of drivers and passengers comply with this law.

    The significant reductions in deaths and injuries that followed the implementation of the seatbelt laws amply demonstrate that the benefits vastly outweigh the oft-alleged but as yet unproven “risk compensation” argument.

    Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB
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    Not so much perhaps that not wearing a seat belt makes one ‘dangerous’, but a ‘dangerous’ driver (however defined) is more likely to commit this offence than the safety conscious driver, hence the benefit of targeting them.

    I said in another current news story, bad practises/illegal activities by an individual when behind the wheel, tend not to be isolated incidents – their safety is compromised across the board I’ve found. They don’t just get one thing wrong, they get lots of things wrong.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    My dad used to drive lorries without wearing a seatbelt from the early 1970s until mid-2006, and throughout that time he was considered /the/ model driver by his employers. The only reason he started to wear a seatbelt when driving lorries was not to do with safety, but to do with enforcement.

    David Weston, Corby
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    I think the heading here is misleading. All we see is the detection of motorists driving illegally – whether they are also dangerous, or not, is subjective. How, for example, does the decision to not wear a seat-belt make one ‘dangerous’? Some would argue that, due to risk compensation, the use of a seat-belt makes one more dangerous to other road users.

    Charles, England
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