Three new unmarked tractor-units are to take to the roads as part of a unique initiative by Highways England to tackle dangerous driving on England’s motorways and major A roads.
Highways England has announced plans to fund three new unmarked tractor-units after a similar truck was used by police forces across the country to help catch over 4,000 dangerous drivers in its first two years.
The three new Mercedes-Benz Actros units, supplied through Dawsonrentals, will patrol motorways and main trunk roads, and have been fitted with wide-angle cameras to capture unsafe driving behaviour. They also have a derestricted speed limiter which means they can travel at speeds up to the national speed limit, and flashing lights have been installed for use by police forces in an emergency. The trucks allow police officers to film evidence of unsafe driving behaviour by pulling up alongside vehicles. Drivers are then reprimanded by police cars following behind.
In explaination, Richard Leonard, Highways England’s Head of Road Safety, said: “We’ve found that the vast majority of drivers are sensible behind the wheel but a few have got into bad habits or are simply ignoring the law and putting themselves and others at risk. We’ve decided to fund two extra unmarked HGVs to continue to target dangerous driving on England’s motorways and major A roads, improving safety for everyone. In total, 28 police forces have taken part in the HGV safety initiative since it began in April 2015, pulling over 4,176 drivers in relation to 5,039 offences in its first two years.”
“Nearly two thirds of the drivers who were stopped were illegally using a mobile phone while driving, despite the latest statistics showing that mobile phone use is a factor in an average of two deaths on the roads every month.”
“Offences have included a driver pulled over by Devon and Cornwall Police who was found to have sent 10 replies to 10 texts within one hour; a driver in Surrey who was seen trying to put toothpaste on a toothbrush; and a driver in the East Midlands who was spotted steering with his knees while he ate his lunch and used his mobile phone,” he added.
Last year, the UK Government doubled the penalty for drivers caught using their phones at the wheel. Motorists now receive 6 points on their licence and a £200 fine – up from the previous 3 points and £100 fine.