Police release video as 317 drivers caught on phone behind wheel

A record-breaking 317 reckless drivers were caught in a single day using their phones, watching movies and not wearing seatbelts by an undercover police lorry patrol. The law-breaking motorists were captured on film by Warwickshire Police as part of Operation Tramline, a national campaign using HGVs to catch dangerous drivers in the act. On just one day on November 13, a record 317 offences including 69 drivers who were using a mobile phone and 97 motorists who failed to wear seatbelts.

Police say that despite the coronavirus pandemic reducing the volume of traffic on the roads, the number of reckless drivers being caught was “staggering”. In one shocking clip, officers caught a truck driver who had failed to strap down a tractor on his lorry. He was also playing on his phone and was not wearing a seatbelt.

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He was so distracted by his phone, he failed to notice the police lorry despite them filming him for several minutes as he hurtled down the M40 at 60mph.

An officer making the recording is heard saying: “There are torn up straps, I don’t like it. “There are holes in the straps. “And he’s on his phone and no seatbelt and with a tractor on the back.

“He’s texting away, swiping up on his phone.” While police continued to film, the driver even took his left hand off the wheel and rested it on his chin while texting with his right. An unmarked police car with its sirens and lights on followed the lorry but the driver continued to text on his phone.

The stunned officer says: “He’s got his elbow on the wheel. Still no reaction to us. “The [police car] is lit up like a Christmas tree but still no reaction.”

Another driver of a black Range Rover was caught using WhatsApp as he drifted onto the hard shoulder of the motorway. Police also caught a lorry driver who was watching a video while he was behind the wheel. An officer is heard telling his colleague: “He is watching a video.”

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When the driver realises he has been caught red-handed, he brazenly gives officers a cheeky wave before being pulled over.

The HGV police unit also caught another driver carrying 30 tons of bricks which were unsecured in the back of his truck. Meanwhile eagle-eyed officers spotted another lorry laden with fake cigarettes. The driver also had no insurance or licence.

The incidents were all recorded by officers patrolling the busy M40 and M42 in Warwickshire and the West Midlands. Sergeant Carl Stafford said: “Whilst this has been a record breaking operation for offences detected by our officers, it has also been an extremely disappointing one, as even with a reduced amount of traffic from the current epidemic we are seeing an increase in offences. “The increase in mobile phone usage whilst driving has been staggering despite all of the publicity and increase in penalties people are still selfishly putting themselves and others at risk by being distracted by their phones, exacerbated even more when in charge of heavy goods vehicles.

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“We also found that most of the drivers stopped with no seatbelt on actually made a conscious effort to fasten it behind them, I can’t comprehend the mentality of not using this non-intrusive device which is proven to save lives.”

Highways England Assistant Regional Safety Coordinator, Marie Biddulph, said: “It is frustrating to see the number of drivers who are willing to put themselves and others at risk on our roads.

“It is particularly disappointing that almost 100 drivers chose not to wear their seatbelts and 69 people were seen using a handheld mobile phone while at the wheel.”

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