Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe has hailed the early success of Warwickshire Police’s Commercial Vehicle Unit (CVU), which has detected 136 driver offences in a five day period on the county’s motorway network.
Set up with funding from the Commissioner at the beginning of this month, the unit works with partners such as Highways England, the Health and Safety Executive and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to help improve public safety by targeting commercial vehicles and hauliers that could pose serious danger to other road users in Warwickshire through education and enforcement.
The CVU took part in Operation Tramline earlier this month, using a specially-adapted HGV ‘supercab’ owned by Highways England to observe driver behaviours in all vehicles and deal with any offences.
Inspector Mick Huntley explained: “The operation is about keeping people safe on our roads and officers are looking for people that could pose serious danger to themselves and other road users.
“The ‘supercab’ is invaluable because it allows officers to see all road users from an elevated position, giving a much clearer view of what drivers are doing. For example, if a driver is using a mobile phone or not wearing their seatbelt. The ‘supercab’ allows our officers to film evidence of unsafe driving behaviour by pulling up alongside vehicles. Anyone we need to speak to is then pulled over by police cars following behind.”
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “I am delighted that the Commercial Vehicle Unit is already making a difference and taking action against illegal activity on some of our busiest stretches of road.
“Anyone who drives on our motorways and trunk roads will sadly have seen many examples of poor and dangerous driving, including from those who are supposed to be ‘professional’ drivers. There is often a perception that nothing is done about these types of dangerous motorists, so I have been determined to fund initiatives that will really make a difference.
“The Commercial Vehicle Unit has clearly had an immediate impact and I am grateful for the partnership working with Highways England which has enabled the use of the ‘Supercab’ so effectively.
“Of course, the ambition has to be to reduce the numbers of people who drive in a poor or dangerous way, so I hope the fact that the additional police patrols that are being conducted by the CVU really highlight the message that such driving will not be tolerated here in Warwickshire.
“Overall, I want to see reductions in the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on our roads and that’s why I have already awarded grants of almost £400,000 to road safety projects and am making a further £500,000 available through my Road Safety Fund in 2020/21. I want Warwickshire to really lead the way nationally on road safety and there’s still time to apply for funding, so I’d be delighted to hear from other projects which can make a difference.”
To find out more and to apply for funding through the Warwickshire Road Safety Fund, visit: www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk/your-pcc/commissioners-grants/2020-21-commissioners-grants-scheme/
The fund closes for applications on January 31.
Operation Tramline successes
Over the five days of Operation Tramline, the CVU stopped a mix of vehicles on the M6, M40, M42, M69 and A46 in Warwickshire. Out of 136 driver offences:
- 15 people were stopped for using a mobile phone whilst driving (a potential 6 points on their licence and a £200 fine) and a further 54 drivers were stopped and dealt with because they were not wearing seatbelts (potential £100 fine).
- A child was found unrestrained in one vehicle driving at high speed on the motorway that should have had a child car seat fitted (up to £500 fine).
- The CVU stopped one vehicle for driving too closely to the vehicle in front, and two vehicles were stopped for careless driving. Seven vehicles were stopped for driving at excess speed and a further 18 vehicles were stopped because officers had observed the driver was not in proper control of the vehicle and were reported for these offences. This is of great concern as vehicles travel at high speeds on the motorway network and drivers really need to concentrate on what they’re doing.
- Due to the seriousness of the offence, two drivers – one on mobile phone and one not in proper control – were referred to the Traffic Commissioner who can take action against drivers including suspending or revoking a driver’s licence.
- One driver was stopped for driving without a licence and the vehicle seized and another was stopped for failing to display a vehicle registration number. Three vehicles were stopped and seized for having no tax and five vehicles were stopped and seized for having no insurance. Four vehicles were found to have no MOT.
- As a result of the driver checks completed by the officers, one person was arrested for being wanted on warrant.
During the operation, the new CVU used the opportunity to focus on the many commercial vehicles using the region’s roads.
- Eleven vehicles were found to have insecure loads. These were rectified by the drivers who were reported for the offences before the vehicle could continue on its journey.
- Ten HGVs were asked to move from the hard shoulder of the motorway where they had parked near to a service station to avoid parking fees in a designated parking place within the services.
- Foreign vehicles pay a levy to use the UK’s roads and out of five HGV levy checks one HGV was issued with a Roadside Deposit Notice as the levy had not been paid. After checking the same vehicle’s tachograph, PC Russell from the Commercial Vehicle Unit found the same driver had interfered with his tachograph to falsify driver hours and received a £500 on the spot fine. The vehicle was also immobilised and the driver enforced to have a 9 hour rest period.
- In total 56 driver-hours checks were carried out.