M6 police catch banned driver with four-year-old child sat on passenger’s lap

He was a banned driver, with no insurance. That was bad enough. But when undercover investigators drew closer they were horrified to see the disqualified driver was not wearing a seat belt and neither was a four-year-old child sat on a passenger’s lap in the car.

One driver was playing online poker on his phone and another FaceTiming his partner. The incidents were among more than 250 offences discovered in just a week on the M6 in the north west. Others included a truck reversing up the motorway on the inside lane after the driver overshot Junction 18 at Knutsford.

A banned driver with no insurance was stopped towing a trailer in the third lane in Cumbria. Unmarked HGV cabs were used by police forces in Operation Tramline to catch rogue drivers. From their elevated viewpoint in the cabs officers were able to spot people driving dangerously.

Forty people were seen failing to wear a seatbelt and 22 drivers were caught using their mobile phone illegally. Other offences included, unsecure loads, failing to adhere to red X warning signs; speeding, and truck drivers not taking a break. Police forces from Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside and Cheshire made use of the HGV cabs, supported by additional patrols and vehicle stops by such partners as the DVSA and the North West Commercial Vehicle Unit.

Parcels fell out of this truck after it was stopped on the M6 in the north west and found to be illegally loaded

The cabs stopped 207 vehicles, with action ranging from words of advice or fixed penalty notices to traffic offences being reported and eight arrests made.

The North West Commercial Vehicle Unit also stopped 85 HGV and LGVs. Of these, 45 offences were discovered such as unsafe tyres and breaches over the drivers’ hours and load weight. Highways England deals with around 180 reported incidents on the whole of the M6 every day including a large number of traffic collisions – 4,222 were reported on the M6 in 2019.

But the week of action saw a reduction in the number of incidents and traffic collisions.

M6 police catch banned driver with four-year-old child sat on passenger's lap

Highways England Head of Road Safety Jeremy Phillips said: “Our aim through this week of action was to make not only the M6 but all of our roads safer by raising awareness and encouraging motorists to consider their driving behaviour. “The HGV cabs helped the police to identify hundreds of dangerous drivers who could have caused collisions and harm if they hadn’t been pulled over. Our safety advice given at the motorway services and through the campaign also helped to make the M6 safer.

“We are confident that, working together with our road safety partners, this campaign has helped spread our safety messages to drivers but also raised awareness that those who engage in high risk behaviours can expect to be spotted and, if an offence has been committed, action will be taken by our enforcement partners.” The number of incidents reduced during the campaign from 1,301 the week before to 1,287 while the number of traffic collisions fell 17% from 71 to 59.

Sergeant Andy Griffith, of Cheshire Constabulary, said: “I hope that the operation acts as a warning to lorry drivers and all other motorists and reiterates the fact that no-one is above the law. While this operation may have concluded, we will continue to use the unmarked HGV to patrol the road network.”

Other agencies taking part in the week of action included the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, Health and Safety Executive, HM Revenue and Customs and the Home Office. The DVSA carried out checks at eight locations along the M6 checking caravans and trailers, vans and HGVs. They discovered 216 vehicle defects including tyres and brakes.

Also 229 roadside offences such as drivers’ hours breaches and overweight vehicles.

Nationally Since the launch of Operation Tramline in 2015, more than 21,600 offences have been recorded.

The most common offences have included:

  • Using a mobile phone – 6,073
  • Not wearing a seatbelt – 6,253
  • Not in proper control of vehicle – 1,501
  • Speeding – 1,199