Driving offences detected on Surrey’s roads by officers using a HGV ‘supercab’.
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Between Tuesday 26 November and Thursday 28 November Surrey and Sussex’s Roads Policing Unit (RPU) carried out a special operation to target distraction drivers.
In total twenty-three vehicles were stopped and twenty-eight offences were identified on roads in Surrey including the M25.
Officers were using one of the HGV ‘supercabs’, shared between multiple forces, on the county’s roads for the first time since 2018.
Whilst one officer was behind the wheel of the HGV, another was in the passenger seat watching out for dangerous or distracted driving and recording footage of incidents giving cause for concern.
The ‘observer’ then relayed information to a further police vehicle travelling behind, which intercepted and indicated to the driver to pull over. The officers were looking to identify and prevent offences as part of the operation to reduce collisions and improve road safety, journey times, and the reliability of motorways and major roads.
The increased height of the HGV’s viewing platform meant that driving offences that may have been difficult to spot from a standard patrol vehicle, were able to be seen.
Of the twenty-eight offences identified, the largest proportion related to using a mobile phone (eight) and failing to wear a seat belt (eight), followed by not being in proper control of a vehicle (five).
Officers were specifically looking to target offences that comprise the fatal four: impaired driving through drink or drugs, using a handheld mobile phone, speeding, and not wearing a seat belt.
A speeding motorist who was stopped was found to be wanted by the courts for breaching a community order and was arrested. One HGV driver stopped had been observed eating their pickled gurkins from a jar using a fork whilst controlling the steering using their elbows.
Nine of the vehicles stopped were private vehicles, eight were LGV’s, and six were HGV’s. The vehicle stops resulted in a number of outcomes including: twelve Traffic Offence Reports, seven instances of words of advice being given to drivers, three warning letters, two graduated fixed penalty notices, and a summons
Chief Inspector Michael Hodder, who oversees roads policing in Surrey and Sussex, said: “I’m pleased that the latest figures show fewer offences detected than during previous usage of the HGV ‘supercab’ on Surrey’s roads. This is a sign that some motorists are taking road safety more seriously. However twenty-eight offences detected remains a concern, because this can lead to serious or even fatal collisions on our roads. Operation Tramline is a timely reminder ahead of our annual crackdown on drink and drug driving in December.
“Utilising the HGV helps us to spot many more distraction driving offences than we would otherwise. Operation Tramline is also an effective way for us to target the fatal four. Legislation for wearing a seat belt was first introduced in 1983 and strengthened in 1991, but more than 30 years after the law was brought in, some drivers are still choosing to ignore it and are not recognising the safety benefits to themselves and others. Government data shows that in 2017 twenty-seven percent of fatalities on the UK’s roads related to someone not wearing a seat belt.
“Ultimately this operation is a reminder to drivers that the absence of a marked police vehicle doesn’t mean that they won’t get caught out if they are carrying out a motoring offence. We want to make our road network as efficient and safe as possible and will seek to prosecute if we catch someone committing an offence”.
Operation Tramline will be carried out on the roads in the future as Surrey Police continues to tackle dangerous and anti-social driving habits. We target offenders as part of routine roads policing all year round; in addition to undertaking dedicated campaigns and operations.