Staffordshire Police has taken delivery of a new HGV cab which will be used to help detect motoring offences across the region’s roads.
The work is part of the force’s continued work with Highways England in its national campaign, 'Operation Tramline'.
The operation has seen Highways England loan out one of three unmarked HGV cabs to the force to help prevent collisions and change driver behaviour for the better.
The three cabs are shared across England to be used on the CMPG network which includes the M6 and A500 in Staffordshire.
The elevated position of the HGV cab means officers have been able to drive alongside vehicles to detect any unsafe driving across the strategic road network.
So far, the cab has been used by the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) and will be used by Staffordshire Road Policing Unit (RPU) for two weeks over the course of 2021.
CMPG used the cab on the M6 between 16 and 19 February. During this period, officers recorded 27 mobile phone offences, 15 seatbelt offences, four excess speed offences, four careless driving offences and seized three vehicles for no insurance.
One driver was spoken to by officers for driving on the hard shoulder while one individual was arrested for immigration offences and another was stopped driving a stolen car before being arrested for the theft of the motor vehicle.
So far, Staffordshire RPU has also used the cab to identify 15 mobile telephone offences and 14 seatbelt incidents, with one driver spoken to over taking care while driving and 14 people advised over vehicle defects.
The cab can detect a wide range of traffic offences, including:
Illegal phone use including texting, making calls and watching videos
Unsecure heavy loads
Lack of seatbelt use
Vehicles not properly maintained
Inappropriate hard shoulder use.
Once an offence has been detected by officers travelling in the HGV, they pull the driver over to explain what they have seen and action accordingly.
As part of this ongoing operation, those previously stopped by officers have either sent to court, fined, had their vehicle seized or given the opportunity to get a defect on their vehicle fixed. Earlier this month, officers have used the cab to stop vehicles on the A50 in Longton on Wednesday 10 February where a driver was seen using a mobile phone and now faces six points and a £200 fine.
Another driver was stopped in Festival Park, the same day, after officers spotted them texting at the wheel.
Inspector Sion Hathaway, of the Central Motorway Police Group, said: “We welcome this new HGV addition to our resources and thank Highways England for enabling us to use the truck to improve driver safety on our roads.
“It’s especially important, particularly given the wet and often icy conditions on the roads, as well as the latest national coronavirus lockdown, that we detect people travelling in a potentially unsafe manner and detect offences before serious collisions take place.
“While the vast majority of drivers are sensible, a small minority put themselves and others at risk.
“Highways England’s HGV gives us an advantage because it allows us to look into both normal cars and those higher up so we can see what drivers are doing, whether they’re wearing a seatbelt or if they’re using their phone.
“All of this enforcement activity is about keeping people safe on the roads, not catching them out.
“I hope that those stopped and dealt with by CMPG will now think twice about committing an offence again and therefore make the roads across the region a safer place to be.”
Highways England Assistant Regional Safety Co-ordinator, Marie Biddulph, said: “We work very closely with our police partners across the country through Operation Tramline to improve driving behaviour and reduce the number of incidents caused by unsafe driving.
“It is always disappointing to see people flouting the law and putting themselves and others at risk, particularly those using a mobile phone – you are four times more likely to be in a crash if you use your phone.
“Using the supercabs we want to encourage all drivers to think twice about their behaviour behind the wheel, to put their mobile phone in the glovebox and make sure everyone gets to their destination safely.”