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Unmarked lorry gives police a vantage point to spot unsafe drivers

Last modified: 1 March 2021 at 01:09pm

A man who took both hands off the wheel to use his phone and a lorry driver who rolled a cigarette were among the drivers dealt with last year, as part of a road safety initiative that returns today.

Officers will be patrolling North Yorkshire’s main routes in a HGV cab during Operation Tramline.

The elevated ride height gives them a better view of all drivers to help police detect mobile phone use and other dangerous behaviour.

The truck is loaned by Highways England, which runs Op Tramline nationally and owns three unmarked cabs which it lends to forces.

Traffic Constable Mark Patterson, of North Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing Group, said: “In my time as a traffic officer, I’ve seen crashes where people have died or suffered life-changing injuries just because a motorist got distracted.

“All drivers on our roads know using a mobile phone while driving is wrong. But nobody thinks they’ll be the driver that causes one of those incidents.

“Catching those offences as they happen, then using enforcement and education is one way we can make our roads safer for everyone.

“Using Highways England’s HGV cab during Op Tramline is an excellent way to do that, as it gives us an unparalleled vantage point.”

Several other roads policing units also take part in the operation.

If officers in the lorry see an offence taking place, it is recorded by the passenger. Marked units then pull the vehicle over so the driver can be dealt with immediately.

North Yorkshire Police ran the same operation last spring.

While they found most road users was “overwhelmingly responsible”, they detected a number of offences including:

  • A tractor driver, who shouldn’t even have been on the motorway, driving whilst using a mobile phone who still had alcohol in his system from a previous night of drinking.
  • A European-registered HGV with extensive collision damage which the driver was intending on driving to Dover. The vehicle was prohibited by colleagues from DVSA and he was issued on the spot fines of £900.
  • A lorry driver who was seen rolling a cigarette while driving at motorway speed (pictured).
  • A van driver who was observed using his mobile phone on one day and three days later stopped again for driving his vehicle in a dangerously overloaded condition.
  • A driver who took both hands off the wheel to use his phone (pictured).
  • A disqualified driver, driving an overweight van and trailer and using his phone at the same time.
  • Drivers of various vehicles seen reading/checking paperwork whilst driving on the motorway.
  • Various drivers seen talking on their phones, some completely oblivious to the fact that they were being recorded.

The drivers received fixed penalty notices, which typically include a fine and points on their licence.

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