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Roads police use new unmarked HGV cab to 'spy' on motorists using mobile phones

Police can see drivers using their phones or not wearing a seat belt much easier from the HGV cab...
Police can see drivers using their phones or not wearing a seat belt much easier from the HGV cab...

Roads police have been using a new unmarked HGV cab to spy on motorists who may be using their mobile phones while driving.

Officers from the East Midlands Operational Support Service (EMOpSS) caught more than 30 drivers without seatbelts during a three-day operation in the region.

Police officers patrolled the M1 corridors in Nottinghamshire, as well as a number of other main roads across the region in a new unmarked HGV cab provided by Highways England.

EMOpSS officers in unmarked and marked vehicles stayed in radio contact with the officers in the HGV and pulled over motorists who were seen from the height of the HGV committing offences.

A film crew from BBC One’s The One Show spent two days on the roads with the EMOpSS officers, observing their work in the new HGV during the operation.

Their coverage of the operation will be aired during an episode of The One Show on BBC One from 7pm tonight.

The new HGV is one of three new cabs funded by Highways England which will be used by police forces. The cabs, which enable officers to be in a more elevated position to view unsafe driver behaviour, will patrol motorways and major A roads.

The results for the EMOpSS operation, which ran between 30 January 2018 and 1 February 2018, were:

- Tuesday, January 30 (M69 and A5 Leicester) - 34 vehicles stopped including five insurance offences and two mobile phone offences.

- Wednesday, January 31 (M1 and M69 Northamptonshire and Leicestershire) - 28 vehicles stopped including 18 seat belt offences, five mobile phone offences and four offences of not being in control of the vehicle.

- Thursday, February 1 (M1 Nottingham) - 26 vehicles stopped including 14 seat belt offences and seven mobile phone offences

Sergeant Steve Warren, of EMOpSS, said: "We’ve been running operations like this for a number of years as part of Operation Tramline - a national project supported by Highways England.

"This new HGV cab allows officers to be in a better position to see what other drivers are doing at the wheel.

"Being in a more elevated position means officers now have an even clearer view of unsafe driver behaviour, whether it’s people using a hand-held phone or devices while driving or even watching videos while driving.

"It’s disappointing that drivers are still willing to put their own and others’ safety at risk by not fully concentrating on the road and we will continue to target people committing offences which can cause serious and potentially fatal consequences on our region’s roads.

"Being distracted by looking at your phone for a matter of seconds while you’re driving can have catastrophic and life-changing consequences.

"It’s not just the tougher penalties which can see you lose your licence, but the everlasting guilt if you cause a fatal crash by not focusing on the road.

"We need to remind drivers that their actions not only impact on them but also their family, the victims and their families."

Richard Leonard, Highways England’s head of road safety, added: "Highways England has been funding a single cab for the past couple of years and we’ve been impressed with the impact it’s had on improving safety. Over 4,000 dangerous drivers have been pulled over, with police action ranging from verbal warnings to prosecutions.

"We’ve found that the vast majority of drivers are sensible behind the wheel but a few have got into bad habits, or are simply ignoring the law and putting themselves and others at risk.

"We’ve therefore decided to fund two extra unmarked HGV cabs to continue to target dangerous driving on England’s motorways and major A roads, improving safety for everyone."

Last year, the Government doubled the penalty for drivers caught using their phones at the wheel. Motorists now receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine – up from the previous three points and £100 fine.

More details about the law on mobile phone use are available at www.gov.uk/using-mobile-phones-when-driving-the-law