A man was caught driving while talking on the phone and sipping a McDonald’s drink. The footage was captured on the A500 in Stoke by police in one of the unmarked HGVs on the National Motorways, as agencies prepare for a week of action on the M6.
The van driver can be seen talking on the phone in his right hand while looking at his GPS. He then transfers the phone to his left hand and picks up his drink with his right, leaving only two fingers on the steering wheel before removing both hands completely to put the drink down.
A National Highways spokesman said he was ‘blind’ to being filmed leaving the A500. He was followed by police who had been alerted by road officials.
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Another video, taken by Warwickshire Police on the M40, showed a lorry driver rolling a cigarette at the wheel before noticing he was being filmed. And a third video, still from the M40, showed a man without his seat belt.
National Highways Operation Tramline HGV unmarked taxis are to be used during a week of multi-agency action on the M6 named Operation Vertebrae. It will be held from Monday June 13 to the following Sunday (June 19) with the aim of reducing the number of incidents.
National Highways Road Safety Officer Jeremy Phillips said: “Through this week of action we want to make all our roads safer by raising awareness and encouraging motorists to consider their driving behavior – no only on the M6 but on all our roads. .
“Together with our road safety partners, we are spreading our safety messages and raising awareness that those who put themselves and others at risk can expect to be spotted. Operation Tramline enables our partners law enforcement agencies to identify this high-risk minority and take steps to align their behaviors with those of the safe and law-abiding majority.
“The behaviors identified are typically those of a minority of motorists and while the number of people still using their mobile phones while driving or not wearing their seatbelts is disappointing, thanks to the Tramline heavy goods vehicles we have been able to stop people who could have caused serious damage on the road.
National Highways deals with nearly 180 reported incidents on the M6 every day. These include a large number of road accidents with 3,484 reported on the M6 in 2021 – despite the impact of the lockdown earlier this year.
Over 28,100 offenses have been recorded by the police partners of Operation Tramline since its launch in 2015. The most common offenses are not wearing a seatbelt (8,375), using a telephone laptop (7,163) and poor control of a vehicle (2,083).
The head of the National Police Chiefs Council for Highway Policing Operations, Commander Kyle Gordon, said: “We have worked with National Highways on the Operation Tramline traffic safety initiative for many years. We all recognize that being distracted while driving increases the risk of collisions and the possibility of leaving families and communities devastated, especially due to the size and weight of some of the larger vehicles on our roads.
“We really welcome the opportunity to identify any driver who puts themselves and others at risk by being distracted, this is completely unacceptable.”
Five police forces are taking part in Operation Vertebrae – Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire, Warwickshire Police and Central Motorway Police Group, along with the North West Commercial Vehicle Unit and Local Road Safety Partnerships.
In addition to the HGV taxi rounds, the participating partners will be present on the motorway services to advise drivers and carry out vehicle checks. These will include the DVSA, Health and Safety Executive, HMRC, Home Office and Immigration Enforcement.
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