One of National Highways’ Operation Tramline HGVs
One of National Highways’ Operation Tramline HGVs

Police in unmarked HGV cabs stop hundreds of drivers in Yorkshire during week of action

3 April 2023

Hundreds of drivers were caught committing offences during a week of action as police officers patrolled the M1 in Yorkshire in National Highways’ unmarked HGV cabs.

Operation Freeway saw eight police forces travel the route between Leeds and London in the HGVs on the look-out for unsafe driving in a week of action.

They stopped 663 vehicles and uncovered 691 offences. The most common offence was not wearing a seatbelt, with 239 people caught – 73 in South Yorkshire alone.

This was followed by 181 people spotted using a mobile phone at the wheel, 44 drivers not in proper control of their vehicle, and 43 driving without due care and attention.

Penalties ranged from words of advice and traffic offence reports to 14 court summons and five arrests.

National Highways provides the unmarked HGV cabs to police forces across the country as part of Operation Tramline. From the elevated position in the HGV, officers can spot unsafe driving behaviour – whatever vehicle the motorist may be in.

The 663 vehicles stopped included 180 HGVs and 204 private vehicles.

During the four-day long operation, South Yorkshire Police stopped 185 drivers for selfish and careless driving behaviours.

Of those stopped, 179 were Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs) and six cars. A total of 41 drivers were found to be using their mobile phone while driving, 15 were not in proper control of their vehicle, 73 were not wearing a seatbelt and 10 were driving without due care and attention.

National Highways Head of Road Safety, Jeremy Phillips, said:

“Hundreds of thousands of motorists travel over 21 million miles on the M1 every day – accounting for one in seven of all motorway journeys – and the vast majority are safe and legal drivers.

“But there is a minority that continue to put themselves and others at risk. It is disappointing that almost 700 offences were spotted in just one week – but thanks to Operation Freeway those drivers were prevented from continuing with their unsafe behaviours.

“Through this week of action we aim to reduce the number of incidents on the M1 and to encourage motorists to think about their driving and to adopt safer behaviours.”

West Yorkshire Police stopped 86 vehicles, of which 32 were HGVs, 35 LGVs and 19 were private vehicles.

Eight drivers were deemed to be not in proper control and 21 were found to have been using their mobiles.

Sergeant James Parmar, of West Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing Unit, said:

“We stopped 86 drivers on West Yorkshire’s stretch of the M1 during Operation Freeway for over 90 offences. The vast majority of these drivers were driving HGV or LGV vehicles and stopped for fatal five offences.

“The reality is that the dangers of actions such as using a mobile phone while driving, not wearing a seatbelt or driving without due care or attention are potentially even more catastrophic when a larger vehicle is involved. The action that we have taken, alongside other police forces and National Highways, is all about keeping our roads safe for everyone.”

Thirty-seven people were pulled over for seatbelt offences and a further seven for insecure loads.

Roads Policing Acting Sergeant Rodney McEnery said:

“We’re always pleased to welcome the HGV unit from National Highways.

“Every time we run this operation, we have high numbers of offences recorded, and it highlights the number of drivers who pose a risk on our roads every day. If it makes one driver change their behaviour and think twice, then it’s worth it, as all these offences can and do cost lives. Innocent people die.

“People are always quick to comment how we want to issue tickets and generate income, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. We want safe roads. As police officers we are sadly familiar with seeing death and fatalities on our roads and delivering the news to a family that their loved one has died never gets any easier.”

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