An unmarked HGV operated by Highways England has caught 4,000 dangerous drivers over the past two years.
The elevated position of the cab allows police officers to film unsafe driving behaviour by pulling up alongside vehicles on motorways and major A roads. Drivers are then pulled over by police cars following behind.
Highways England’s head of road safety Richard Leonard said: “The HGV cab, which is funded by Highways England, has been patrolling motorways and major A roads over the past couple of years with the aim of improving road safety.”
The footage released today shows a lorry driver using his mobile phone, and resting one foot on his dashboard, as he travelled from the M18 onto the M62 near Goole. He was pulled over by Humberside Police.
Leonard said: “The driver with his foot up on the dashboard is particularly alarming, and I dread to think what would have happened if he had needed to brake suddenly.
"We will continue to use the cab to tackle deaths and serious injuries and to encourage people to improve how they drive.”
Another driver pulled over by Devon and Cornwall Police was found to have sent 10 replies to 10 texts within one hour; a driver in Surrey was seen trying to put toothpaste on a toothbrush; and a driver in the East Midlands was spotted steering with his knees while he ate his lunch and used his mobile phone.
Latest statistics show that mobile phone use is a factor in an average of two deaths on the roads every month, with 124 people losing their lives over the past 5 years and 521 suffering a serious injury.
Nearly two thirds of the drivers who were stopped were illegally using a mobile phone while driving, putting themselves and others at risk.
National Police Chiefs’ council lead for roads policing Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said: “Police forces are committed to keeping our roads safe and partnership with Highways England is absolutely crucial for that, as we can see from the thousands of offences detected by the HGV cab.
“Together with targeted local action by police officers, this has become an important element of our intelligence-led operations against dangerous driving.
“Driving whilst distracted is completely unacceptable and police are also making use of the tougher new penalties to stop this dangerous behaviour by ensuring that offenders face the full weight of law.
“People have to think about the consequences of their actions - a moment’s distraction can change innocent lives. It is never a risk worth taking.”
In total, 28 police forces have taken part in the HGV cab safety initiative since it began in April 2015, pulling over 4,176 drivers in relation to 5,039 offences.
Officers gave verbal advice to 388 drivers, issued 838 fixed or graduated penalty notices, and filed 3,318 traffic offence reports – usually requiring attendance at a driver education course. There were also 113 prosecutions for more serious offences.
Malcolm Bingham, FTA's head of road network management policy, said: “Drivers of any vehicles who fail to pay full attention while behind the wheel should undoubtedly be punished, and the Freight Transport Association fully supports enforcement of the law against those who bring discredit to the logistics industry.
"Our members are well aware of the need to pay full attention when operating a vehicle, and this is reinforced in all our member communications, at briefings and events.
"Driving while distracted is completely unacceptable, and while the vast majority of freight operators work to the letter of the law, we welcome any new initiative which identifies the small minority of those whose dangerous behaviour puts other road users at risk.”
Reasons for stopping drivers included:
- Using mobile phones – 2,508
- Not wearing seatbelts – 901
- Not in proper control of vehicles – 253
- Speeding – 249