OVER 140 vehicles have been stopped on the region’s road network as part of a crackdown on driving offences this week.
Known as Operation Tramline, officers from the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) and Warwickshire Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit used a specially-adapted HGV ‘supercab’ owned by Highways England.
They stopped 140 vehicles, a mix of cars, vans and HGVs, for 160 offences. Seventy one were seatbelt offences (which incurs a £100 fine), 31 drivers were using mobile phones (6 points and a £200 fine) and one person was arrested on the M42 for failing a roadside drugs test and possession of drugs.
Five vehicles which were seized for no insurance, insecure loads, careless driving, driver not in proper control of the vehicle (the driver was doing his paperwork as he drove), reversing on the hard shoulder and a small child who was unrestrained.
One HGV stopped had a total of eight offences on it including no brakes, defective tyres and no number plate. This was immediately prohibited and recovered from the M6.
Inspector Sion Hathaway, of CMPG, said: “Our road network is getting busier all the time and, while the vast majority of drivers are sensible behind the wheel and give it their full attention, some of them put themselves and others at risk. That’s why we welcome the opportunity to make use of the ‘supercab’ whenever it’s offered to us.
“The ‘supercab’ gives us an advantage as we’re so high up it makes it easier to see what a driver’s doing and whether they’re wearing their seatbelt or not. The cabs allow our officers to film evidence of unsafe driving behaviour by pulling up alongside vehicles. Anyone we need to speak to is then pulled over by police cars following behind.
“Having the elevated position on the road gives a much clearer view of what drivers are doing, especially with trucks and HGVs. Vehicles are travelling at such high speeds on the motorway network that drivers really do need to concentrate on what they’re doing. All this enforcement activity is about keeping people safe, not catching them out. That’s why we have come together as a region this week.”
Sergeant Carl Stafford, of Warwickshire Police, said: “We have been able to extend the area in which this operation is conducted working with our partnering force and increasing the ability to intercept vehicles captured by the plain HGV.
“Sadly even with the severe weather seen at the beginning of this operation drivers still continue to be seen using their mobile phones and driving when additional concentration is required to deal with reduced visibility and extended stopping distances.
“These operations will continue to be run throughout both Warwickshire and the other Midlands motorways in order to continue to make our roads a safer place.”
Highways England Assistant Regional Safety Co-ordinator, Marie Biddulph, said: “Operation Tramline is helping to tackle the minority of drivers who put themselves and others at risk on our roads.
“The three HGV supercabs funded by Highways England give police a different viewpoint enabling them to more easily spot motorists ignoring the law by committing such offences as using a mobile phone or driving without a seatbelt.
“During this collaborative week of action with our police partners across the Midlands we have seen a number of drivers committing offences, particularly driving without a seatbelt which is an issue not only in the Midlands but nationally.
“Highways England is committed to working collaboratively with our partners in the police to improve road safety.”
Highways England began the HGV cab initiative in 2015 as part of its drive to improve safety on motorways and major A roads. They started with one cab and the results were so impressive that they funded two additional cabs in 2018.
Police officers pulled over more than 3,500 drivers in the first three years for offences which could have resulted in serious collisions, either because road users have got into bad habits or are simply ignoring the law.