Surrey and Sussex Police target distracted drivers with dedicated operation
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A dedicated one week operation by Surrey and Sussex’s Road Policing Unit, has identified a staggering 147 separate offences of driving whilst distracted on the two counties’ roads.
The operation was the latest instalment of a regular campaign by the Roads Policing Unit that takes place at different times throughout the year.
During these periods, officers change tactics and use an unmarked HGV to look down and spot distracted or dangerous drivers. The increased height of the HGV’s viewing platform means that driving offences that are difficult to spot from a standard patrol vehicle can be seen.
This latest operation occurred from Monday, 18 January, to Friday, 22 January, and was the first to take place after Brexit and during a lockdown.
In total 126 vehicles were stopped and 147 offences were identified on roads in Surrey and Sussex including the M25, M3, M23 and A23.
Offences included driving whilst on a mobile phone, driving without due care, not being in proper control of a vehicle and driving on the hard shoulder, as well as seatbelt offences.
Penalties and interventions included 74 Traffic Offence Reports and 21 Fixed Penalty Notices, as well as words of advice given to a number of drivers.
Officers were specifically looking to target offences that comprise the fatal five: impaired driving through drink or drugs, careless driving, using a handheld mobile phone, speeding, and not wearing a seat belt.
A motorist who was stopped for not wearing a seatbelt was found to be wanted by West Midlands Police for a domestic assault charge and was arrested. One HGV driver stopped had been observed reading a map book whilst driving up the A23. Another motorist was stopped for being on their phone and was then found to have no license or insurance. She was subsequently arrested and reported to court.
Chief Inspector Michael Hodder, from Surrey and Sussex’s Roads Policing Unit, said:
“This operation is crucial in keeping the roads of Surrey and Sussex as safe as possible. Driving whilst distracted is one of the ‘fatal 5’ reasons for deaths and serious injuries on the roads and is something that can easily be prevented. Officers taking part in this operation are looking to identify offences, as well as educate drivers to the risks of their actions.
“The use of the HGV is vital in helping officers to identify more distractive driving offences than they could in a normal patrol car. It is serves as a deterrent to drivers that just because you cannot see a marked police car, does not mean you will not be caught and prosecuted.”
Sergeant Kellie Harris of the Commercial Vehicle Unit, added: “Distractions of any kind cause collisions and people need to remember that when driving, that should be the sole focus, not chatting on the phone, fiddling with the radio or eating sandwiches. All these things take attention away from concentrating on driving and dealing with ever-changing hazards and if we see that any distraction is diverting attention and affecting driving, we will stop and deal with it.
“We want to make our road network as safe as possible and will seek to prosecute if we catch someone committing an offence”.
The HGV is provided by Highways England and has been used by numerous police forces over the past year including in the South East.
The ‘supercab’ allow police officers to film evidence of unsafe driving behaviour by pulling up alongside vehicles, and drivers are then pulled over by police cars following a short distance behind.
Colin Evans, Regional Safety Coordinator in the South East, at Highways England, said:
“Highways England’s priority is to try to ensure everyone using or working on our network gets home safe and well, and to enable our police colleagues to protect everyone from unsafe drivers and vehicles. There is no excuse for driving tired or driving an unsafe lorry or other vehicle, and we will not hesitate in taking action against those who flout the law on the Strategic Road Network. By working with the police and sharing intelligence we help make Britain’s roads even safer.”
Operation Tramline will be carried out on the roads in the future as Surrey and Sussex 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.