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Northamptonshire Police was back on-board National Highways’ unmarked HGV last week for a two-day operation to crackdown on illegal and irresponsible drivers using the county’s major road network.
Officers from the Safer Roads Team, supported by the Special Constabulary, used the vehicle to patrol the county’s stretch of the M1 to spot drivers putting others at risk by their poor driving behaviour.
The patrols were carried out between Tuesday, September 27, and Wednesday, September 28, as part of National Highways’ Operation Tramline campaign which aims to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on the county’s roads.
During the two days of action, officers used the HGV super cab to film evidence of unsafe driving behaviour by pulling alongside vehicles. Drivers seen committing an offence were then pulled over by a police car following a short distance behind.
From these checks, 29 vehicles stopped, with HGVs making up the vast majority with 16 drivers pulled over by officers, and a total of 28 offences detected – 14 of which were for not wearing a seatbelt.
Eight drivers were stopped for using a mobile phone whilst driving, and one foreign national was dealt with at the roadside and paid a £100 fixed penalty fine after he was stopped for careless driving after nearly causing a collision.
Another driver was stopped for inappropriate lane use and an insecure, dangerous load. He received an immediate prohibition notice preventing him from driving his vehicle until his cargo had been reloaded safely.
However, one disqualified driver may have regretted not wearing his seatbelt after he was spotted travelling on the southbound carriageway with his passenger, who was also not strapped in.
When officers carried out checks, it turned out the 37-year-old man from Leeds, was wanted by West Yorkshire Police for failing to attend court in connection after being charged with driving whilst disqualified and for breaching a court order.
The man was arrested and then subsequently charged with the four additional traffic offences committed in Northamptonshire – driving whilst disqualified, with no insurance, overweight load and not wearing a seatbelt.
He appeared before Northampton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, September 29, and was imprisoned for 22 weeks and received a further 36-month disqualification and ordered to retake a standard driving test.
For driving without insurance, the insecure load/weight offence and not wearing his seat belt – he also had his licence endorsed with six points, fined £1,633 and ordered to pay £170 costs and £128 victim surcharge.
PC Dave Lee, of the Northamptonshire Police Safer Roads Team, said: “To hold a driving licence is both a privilege and a responsibility, especially for those who rely on our road networks to make a living.
“Some commercial drivers drive hundreds of miles each week across the UK and are sadly more likely to see the tragic consequences of poor driving standards, so it is always disappointing to still catch a small minority breaking the law.
“Although Operation Tramline has increased the chances of getting caught, which can only be a good thing, we would encourage all drivers to use our roads legally and responsibly to make sure everyone gets home safely.”
National Highways Assistant Regional Safety Co-ordinator, Marie Biddulph, said: “At National Highways, we believe that no one should be harmed while travelling on our roads. So, it is always disappointing when we still see drivers – albeit a small minority – putting themselves and others at risk. You are twice as likely to die in a crash if you are not wearing a seat belt.
“Through Operation Tramline we hope to persuade all drivers to carefully consider their driving behaviour – and part of the motivation for that is knowing that they could well be spotted by officers in our unmarked cabs.
“We will continue to work closely with our police partners to make our roads as safe as they can be.”
Last year in Northamptonshire, 29 people were killed and a further 280 seriously injured on the county’s road network – which is why Northamptonshire Police will be launching a new Road Policing Team in 2023.
This specialist team will have responsibility for policing the road network, taking ownership for road safety and road crime policing. The team will also have drone, family liaison and ANPR capability as well as providing a licensed search function.