Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit identify 188 distracted drivers in just five days
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A car driver who was eating her breakfast and had no hands on the wheel whilst on a busy road, was just one of the 188 people dealt with as part of Surrey and Sussex’s Roads Policing Unit’s crackdown on distracted drivers.
Operation Tramline targets distracted drivers and aims to reduce collisions and improve road safety, journey times, and the reliability of motorways and major roads.
The undercover campaign ran for 5 days from Monday 15 March to Friday 19 March and again utilised the HGV ‘supercab’ loaned to the team by Highways England, alongside other unmarked vehicles.
The HGV ‘supercab’ allows members of the RPU team to patrol the roads in the unmarked lorry and effectively ‘look down’ on vehicles that they otherwise may not be able to.
Across both counties a total of 233 offences were dealt with, committed by 188 drivers on routes including the M25, junctions 6-14 and the M3, junctions 1-4. Offences included not being in proper control of a vehicle, driving on the hard shoulder, due care and seatbelt offences, amongst many others. Penalties and interventions included 23 words of advice, 108 Traffic Offence Reports and 33 Fixed Penalty Notices.
Sergeant Kellie-Anne Harris, of the Commercial Vehicle Unit, said: “Driving whilst distracted is a real danger and is something that can all too easily have fatal consequences. We hope by targeting distracted drivers with this dedicated operation we can reduce the risk to road users and to educate drivers about the dangers to not only themselves, but others.
“Along with 47 uses of a mobile phone, 23 seatbelt offences and 13 speed offences, we saw some truly frightening things like a HGV driver taking both hands off the wheel to take a photo of the road ahead whilst on the M25 and a scaffolder driving his van which was 59% overweight. A van was also stopped due to having an insecure load and subsequently the driver was arrested for drug drive and possession offences.”
Chief Inspector Michael Hodder, head of the joint Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: “Using unmarked vehicles including the Highways England HGV cab allows us to catch those driving whilst distracted, by allowing the team to look down on drivers and see into their vehicle from a better vantage point.
“The fact that the team recorded a staggering 188 offences in just 5 days highlights just how important and needed these type of operations are. Although my officers can’t be everywhere, they can be anywhere and I urge everyone to drive responsibly or we will catch you.”
Colin Evans, Regional Safety Coordinator, Highways England, said:
“Highways England’s top priority is safety, we want everyone who uses or works on our network to get home safe and well. Joint operations like Tramline are a really good way to target the highest risk road users on the Strategic Road Network by identifying distracted drivers and unroadworthy vehicles before they cause a problem.
"We are proud to support our police colleagues through this operation. We have recently provided new, improved cabs and the Tramline project has now identified more than 20,000 offences.
"There really is no excuse for driving an unsafe vehicle or using your phone at the wheel, so we will continue to support Tramline across our road network, helping to make England’s roads even safer.”
We will continue to carry out these crucial operations in the future to tackle this issue, as well as our other dedicated campaigns and operations.