HIGHWAYS England traffic officers using a fleet of unmarked “supercab” heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) have caught more than 3,000 drivers committing over 3,500 offences over the last 12 months.
Three supercabs have been used to hunt down dangerous drivers on the UK’s busiest A-roads and motorways as part of Operation Tramline, which sees Highways England and regional police forces join forces to catch law breakers.
More than a third (1,195) of 3,296 drivers caught were not wearing seatbelts while behind the wheel, which greatly increases the chance of death in a collision. A quarter of those killed in car accidents in 2017 weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time, according to the Department for Transport.
Another 1,062 offences involved using a handheld mobile phone while driving. Traffic officers filmed a Citroën Relay flatbed user on the M60 using both hands to send a text message and a DAF lorry driver on the M40 making a credit card payment on his phone.
Since March 1, 2017, the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving has been six points and a £200 fine.
The high volume of offences resulted in 2,533 traffic reports being filed and 462 penalty charge notices issued over the last 12 months, according to Highways England. Seventy-three drivers were handed prosecution sentences over the same period.
Highways England says 29 police departments across England have been involved in Operation Tramline over the last 12 months, and the supercabs have been deployed again this week (May 13-19) along the M1 motorway.
Richard Leonard, Highways England’s road safety chief, said: “Hundreds of thousands of drivers use our roads every day and the vast majority are sensible behind the wheel, but some are putting themselves and others at risk.”
He added: “We hope our week of action on the M1 will encourage everyone to think about what more they could do to improve how they drive.”