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A five day operation across Hampshire's motorways has resulted in 88 motorists being prosecuted for driving whilst distracted, including 55 caught driving whilst using their mobile phones.
The week-long campaign was the second time Hampshire Constabulary has run Operation Tramline, and this time also featured officers from Thames Valley Police working under the newly-established Joint Operations Unit Roads Policing Unit.
Four vehicles were dedicated to the operation from Monday to Friday last week (May 14th-18th) including two marked cars, one marked motorbike in Hampshire with another in Thames Valley, and an unmarked Scania lorry cab,hired specifically for the operation along the length of the M27 and M3, M4, M40 and up on to the M25.
Throughout Operation Tramline, one HGV-qualified officer drove the cab whilst an observer recorded and videoed any offences committed – with the cab providing the officers the great advantage of a high viewing platform..
This vehicle was chosen following information from Stammtisch, the community beat surgeries for road users run on the first Wednesday of every month by the RPU at motorway service areas.
Stammtisch provides an opportunity for road users, especially lorry drivers, to speak to officers, ask questions, share information or concerns.
Sergeant Paul Diamond, who led the operation said:
“This issue was raised as a problem to us by concerned lorry drivers who often witnessed offences that the police couldn’t see from ground level.
“This is the second time we’ve hired the Scania cab, it has proved itself invaluable. We know for sure that we were to able to detect at least 28 offences from the high up vantage point that the cab gives us, that we could not have spotted from groundlevel.
“We found that the vast majority of lorry drivers were compliant and professional, and it is the small minority that is causing this issue – but it is a very important issue. Distracted drivers are a massive risk on the roads, and sadly, every year peopleare killed by motorists who aren’t paying attention – either on their phone, texting, or otherwise distracted.”
Results of the operation also include:
112 vehicles stopped, of these 63 were commercial
55 mobile phone offences detected (26 of these in TVP area)
33 distraction offences detected (13 of these in TVP area)
64 T60's issued – similar to a conditional offer fixed penalty notice
4 graduated fixed penalty notices issued
Aside from the targeted offences, officers also identified the following;
4 speeding offences
1 offence of going through a red traffic light
5 daily rest offences (tachograph offence)
7 cumulative driving offences (tachograph offence)
2 careless driving offences
2 overweight vehicle offences which resulted in one vehicle being immediately taken off the road;
1 offence of unnecessary obstruction
2 offences of having no tachograph fitted
3 number plate offences
1 tyre defect
1 hazardous materials prohibition offence
1 vehicle seizure for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – use of red diesel
1 driver reported for hazardous material offences
3 warnings issued for carrying an insecure load
2 contravening white line offences
1 lateral projection offence
2 drivers issued with advice regarding width compliance and use of mirrors
1 fixed penalty notice issued for drawing a trailer in lane three (contrary to motorway regulations)
4 drivers issued advice for unnecessary overtaking
2 seatbelt offences
Sergeant Diamond said:
“The motoring community were again extremely supportive of police action during this week of activity.
“We found that the evenings were the more common time for these type of offences and that M40 and M27 were the worst offending roads. The M40 in particular had a lot of distraction offences with heavy vehicle traffic.
“The number of people using their phones is still very disappointing.. If you are caught using your mobile phone whilst driving you will face a £60 fine and three points on your licence.
“Should you crash whilst driving distracted or on your phone, causing death by careless driving is punishable by 14 years in prison and we will seek to robustly prosecute anyone committing these offences.
“This was a very successful operation which we will run again. Our message could not be clearer – focus on the wheel when you’re driving – no phone call, text message or anything else is as important as a person’s life.”