Unmarked HGV ‘supercabs’ funded by Highways England have filmed more than 3,500 dangerous drivers in the past year, including a lorry driver using a mobile phone to make a credit card payment as he drove on the motorway.
The trucker was seen holding his credit card and phone in each hand on the M40 near Leamington Spa.
Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England, 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.
‘We introduced the three new HGV supercabs last year to help keep the roads safe and tackle dangerous driving by people who have either got into bad habits or are simply ignoring the law.’
The three supercabs have been used by 29 police forces over the past year in a safety initiative dubbed 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 National Police Chiefs’ Council’s 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. The consequences of these actions are often devastating.’
Other footage captured using the cabs included a van driver 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 the driver pulled into a service station just a few seconds later.
Highways England said around one in three (1,195) 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.
The second most common offence captured (1,062) was drivers using a mobile phone while driving the cabs, Other common offences included not in proper control of vehicle (262) and speeding (118). Police 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.