A lorry driver has been caught veering on to the hard shoulder and narrowly avoiding a collision with another HGV, using his mobile phone at the wheel.
The driver was caught by an unmarked ‘supercab’ with two police officers inside.
The recent footage, taken on the M40 by Warwickshire Police, captured one of over 21,000 offences recorded by officers in the Operation Tramline HGV cabs since the national safety initiative was launched by Highways England.
In another clip captured by the force, a lorry driver is seen looking down and texting on his phone as he travels along the motorway.
The Highways England HGV cabs are being used as part of a multi-agency Week of Action on the M6, taking place from May 24 to May 30, which aims to reduce the number of incidents on the motorway and highlight the risks of dangerous driving.
Under the banner of Operation Vertebrae, the campaign takes place along the length of the M6. Highways England said it deals with around 180 reported incidents on the M6 every day. These include traffic collisions with 4,222 reported on the M6 in 2019.
Since the launch of Operation Tramline in 2015, more than 21,600 offences have been recorded. The most common offences included using a mobile phone (6,073), not wearing a seatbelt (6,253), not in proper control of vehicle (1,501) and speeding (1,199).
In total, 19,564 vehicles were stopped in Operation Tramline between July 2015 and April 2021.
Video: Near-miss as driver caught on phone at the wheel by HGV supercab
Highways England head of road safety, Jeremy Phillips said: “The Operation Tramline cabs are an important part of our commitment to tackling dangerous driving and those who take unnecessary risks with their own safety and that of others on the road.
“The number of people found using their mobile phone while driving is quite alarming. You are four times more likely to be in a crash if you use your phone and, if caught, face a £200 fine and six points on your licence.
“Through this week of action on the M6 we want to make all of our roads safer by raising awareness and encouraging motorists to consider their driving behaviour.”
From the elevated viewpoint in the unmarked HGV cabs, police officers can spot people driving dangerously.
Among the incidents witnessed during Operation Tramline was a driver steering a lorry with his knees while eating lunch on his lap and using his phone in the East Midlands. While in West Mercia, officers saw a driver eating lasagne with a knife and fork while driving along a motorway.
Surrey Police spotted an HGV driver boiling a kettle on the dashboard and another eating pickled gherkins from a jar with his elbows on the steering wheel.
One driver was caught twice in one day – in the morning and afternoon - using their mobile phone while driving along the A38 in Derbyshire.
Consequences for the drivers range from warnings to fixed penalty notices, court summons or even arrest.
In addition to the supercab patrols, partners taking part in the M6 week of action will be present at motorway services offering advice to drivers such as what to do in a breakdown and ensuring load safety.
Photo caption: The Operation Tramline ‘supercab’ which patrols motorways and major A roads
Vehicle checks will also be carried out involving the DVSA, Health and Safety Executive and the Home Office.
HSE transport sector spokesperson Nina Day said: “Employers must ensure that drivers, other workers, and members of the public are kept safe when vehicles are used for work.
“There are legal requirements for employers to have robust procedures in place to manage vehicle safety, including ensuring suitable procedures are in place, providing workers with appropriate training and equipment, maintaining equipment and vehicles, and supporting drivers when they raise concerns.
“HSE works closely with our partner agencies to help vehicle operators and load consignors understand their legal responsibilities.”
Six forces are taking part in Operation Vertebrae – Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire, Warwickshire Police and Central Motorway Police Group, as well as the North West Commercial Vehicle Unit.