Named ‘Tramline’ the week long operation in West Yorkshire forms part of a national initiative with Highways England, which has seen police officers across the country using a HGV to film the driving habits of other HGV and van drivers.
Inspector Joanne Field, who leads the Roads Policing Unit in West Yorkshire, said: “I know that ‘white van man’ has a dubious reputation in this country but the reality is that most of those behind the wheel of HGVs and other commercial vehicles are among the most professional and experienced drivers in the country. “This operation was about targeting the small minority that has led to the ‘white van man’ tag in the first place.
“Using the cab of a HGV allows officers to be on the same level and draw alongside other HGV and van drivers- making sure they’re driving without distractions and in a responsible manner.
“Unfortunately we’ve seen a number of drivers this week who’ve been far more interested in something else in their cab rather than concentrating on the road ahead.”
Over the first three days of the operation, police in West Yorkshire stopped 51 vehicles, issued 13 Fixed Penalty Notices and submitted 28 Traffic Offence Reports- that means a driver can attend an education course or have a fine between £30- £300 pounds and up to six penalty points on their licence.
A number of offences were recorded by police including:
Driving while using a hand-held mobile phone
Not being in proper control of a vehicle
Not wearing a seat belt
Driving without due care and attention
A prohibited vehicle using the outside lane
Inspector Joanne Field warned against the absolute dangers of being distracted while behind the wheel of a large commercial vehicle.
“In my policing career I’ve seen on too many occasions the consequences associated with HGVs and other large commercial vehicles involved in collisions at motorway speeds.
“As you can imagine the scenes are absolutely devastating and frequently involve the loss of life.
“Driving any commercial vehicle, which when fully laden can weigh in excess of 40 tonnes, carries an additional burden of responsibility.
“This operation was not about penalising HGV or any other type of commercial vehicle driver, it’s about keeping our roads safe for everyone and shining a light on this aspect of road safety.”
Anthony Thorpe, from Highways England, said: “Road safety is a top priority for Highways England and that’s why we’re working with West Yorkshire Police on this initiative to tackle poor driving behaviour.
“Doing what we can to reduce incidents on our network not only improves safety but it reduces congestion and provides more reliable journeys for West Yorkshire drivers.
“Our aim is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads by 40 per cent over the next five years.”