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.”