More than 4,000 motorists in England have been spotted driving offensively over the past two years, following a special operation using an unmarked police lorry. Since April 2015, officers from various forces have used the HGV to film examples of dangerous driving. One man in the East Midlands was caught steering with his knees while eating lunch and using his mobile phone.
Highways England, which funded the vehicle, said it would continue to use the HGV to catch offending drivers. The position of the cab in the lorry allowed police to see inside vehicles on motorways and busy roads. Mobile phone users made up around two-thirds of those pulled over by police.
Other offences included breaking the speed limit, not wearing a seat belt and not being in full control of the vehicle. In Surrey, one driver was caught trying to put toothpaste on a toothbrush, while another person managed to send 10 text messages in an hour while at the wheel. Some 4,176 people were reprimanded during the initiative, with about 400 receiving verbal warnings, and more than 830 being given fixed-penalty notices. More than 100 cases resulted in prosecutions.
Highways England said footage of one driver with his foot on the dashboard while travelling was “particularly alarming”.
Head of road safety Richard Leonard said: “I dread to think what would have happened if he had needed to brake suddenly.
“We will continue to use the HGV to tackle deaths and serious injuries and to encourage people to improve how they drive.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council said the HGV is “an important element of our intelligence-led operations against dangerous driving”.
Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, NPCC lead for roads policing, said: “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.”
Safe driving from Britannia!