Police detect over 300 driver offences in record breaking Op Tramline operation
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Warwickshire Police’s Commercial Vehicle Unit has achieved record breaking results after officers used the Highways England owned HGV supercab to patrol the motorways in Warwickshire to look for drivers who are putting themselves or other innocent road users at risk by their driving behaviour.
During the five day Operation Tramline ending on Friday 13 November 2020, officers working in collaboration with Highways England and supported by the Operations Patrol Unit and the Special Constabulary detected a record 317 alleged offences including 69 drivers who were believed to be using a handheld mobile phone whilst driving (6 points and £200 fine).
In one incident it took two police cars to stop the driver of an HGV travelling at 60mph on the M40 as he was believed to be so distracted by his mobile phone that he did not seem to notice the blue lights and sirens. He was also not wearing a seatbelt and the load he was carrying was not properly secured. BELOW
This van driver was filmed on the M42 using his mobile phone. However when challenged by officers he denied what he was doing. The HGV supercab is invaluable in these circumstances in being able to see into all vehicles to film driver behaviours to gather evidence potentially for court. BELOW
The driver of this VW estate car was seen holding his mobile phone in his left hand and at times had both hands off the wheel whilst using it. BELOW
Drivers aren’t just using their phone to make calls. It’s believed this Range Rover driver was on Whatsapp. He was clearly not concentrating on the road and drifted towards the hard shoulder. BELOW
The Commercial Vehicle Unit also captured footage of a lorry driver believed to have been watching a video whilst driving.
The value of the supercab and the elevated position it gives officers to see into vehicles was again demonstrated by this businessman conducting his work whilst driving. BELOW
However the top offence committed by drivers was 'not wearing a seatbelt' with a shocking 97 drivers choosing not to fasten their seatbelt including 69 HGV drivers, 26 van drivers and 2 car drivers.
This is shocking not only because drivers and passengers who fail to wear seat belts in the front and back of vehicles are breaking the law, but according to DfT THINK! statistics you are twice as likely to die in a collision if you don’t wear your seatbelt. And bearing in mind that drivers caught without a seat belt face on-the-spot fines of £100. If prosecuted, the maximum fine is £500.
A seatbelt not only reduces your risk of death or serious injury in a collision by reducing your impact with the vehicle interior, but it also keeps you positioned correctly for the maximum effectiveness of the airbag and prevents you from being ejected from your vehicle in a collision or if your vehicle rolls. Please wear a seatbelt as we don’t want this to happen to you.
The CVU also detected a number of other offences during the operation.
This included being able to see that an HGV loaded with over 30 tons of bricks had nothing but gravity and sheer luck holding them on to the lorry. If this lorry had to brake suddenly or swerve the load would shift or fall with potentially devastating consequences for the driver and other innocent road users. There is no excuse for not strapping loads down.
The CVU were also able to target criminals using the roads. One vehicle was found to be laden with counterfeit cigarettes. The vehicle and goods were seized by HMRC. The driver also had no insurance and no licence.
The CVU also stopped numerous overweight vehicles and Special Constables and OPU officers used mobile weigh plates to check the weight of vehicles at the roadside. One vehicle was 53% overweight gross and 67% on rear Axle. It was prohibited and immobilised and took the driver nearly 4 hours to unload the vehicle after another attempt showed it was still overweight.
Sergeant Carl Stafford said
“Whilst this has been a record breaking operation for offences detected by our officers, it has also been an extremely disappointing one, as even with a reduced amount of traffic from the current epidemic we are seeing an increase in offences. The increase in mobile phone usage whilst driving has been staggering despite all of the publicity and increase in penalties people are still selfishly putting themselves and others at risk by being distracted by their phones, exacerbated even more when in charge of heavy goods vehicles. Warwickshire Police is taking a zero tolerance approach when dealing with this offence and all drivers of HGVs will be reported to court and the traffic commissioner.
“We also found that most of the drivers stopped with no seatbelt on actually made a conscious effort to fasten it behind them, I can’t comprehend the mentality of not using this non-intrusive device which is proven to save lives.
“A huge thank you to all the volunteers and officers who participated in this latest operation to make our roads safer. I hope some of this footage shows the worth of this vital collaborative and innovative operation.”
Highways England Assistant Regional Safety Coordinator, Marie Biddulph, said:
“It is frustrating to see the number of drivers who are willing to put themselves and others at risk on our roads. It is particularly disappointing that almost 100 drivers chose not to wear their seatbelts and 69 people were seen using a handheld mobile phone while at the wheel.
“While we know the majority of people are law-abiding, responsible drivers, there is clearly still a minority who will ignore the law and drive dangerously.
“Through our Operation Tramline cabs, and the work of our police partners, we want these drivers to know they can be seen and they need to change their behaviour – for the safety of all road users.”
Officers will continue to use the HGV supercab to spot and film driver offences in all vehicles on the major routes through Warwickshire.
During Operation Tramline week Warwickshire Police were also delighted to hear that the Commercial Vehicle Unit had won the ‘Public Service Operator of the Year’ award in the UK Logistics Awards 2020 after being shortlisted in September.
To view clips of some of these alleged offences please follow the link to YouTube https://youtu.be/1QFiO7Fmqr4
Clips of some of these alleged offences will also be added to social media over the next week, follow us on Twitter @WarksPolice or search using #CVUWarks and Facebook @WarwickshirePolice
NOTE TO MEDIA: To access, clips please follow the link https://www.dropbox.com/s/rz1pjj8y6mv7rlt/Op%20Tramline%20-%20all%20clips.mp4?dl=0