Highways England has announced plans to fund three new unmarked HGV cabs after a single one used by police forces across the country was used to help catch over 4,000 dangerous drivers in its first two years.
The three new cabs 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 cabs allow police officers to film evidence of unsafe driving behaviour by pulling up alongside vehicles. Drivers are then pulled over by police cars following behind.
Richard Leonard, Highways England’s Head of Road Safety, said:
“Highways England has been funding a single cab for the past couple of years and we’ve been impressed with the impact it’s had on improving safety. Over 4,000 dangerous drivers have been pulled over, with police action ranging from verbal warnings to prosecutions.
“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 therefore decided to fund two extra unmarked HGV cabs 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 cab 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 being 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.
The three new unmarked HGV cabs are being supplied as part of a three-year contract with Dawsonrentals, which will also be responsible for maintaining the vehicles.
Last year, the 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.
More details about the law on mobile phone use are available on this guidance page.