Police across the country are set to start sharing an undercover HGV that will enable officers to covertly look down and monitor the actions of drivers, in order to detect those that are committing offences like using a mobile phone while at the wheel or not wearing a seatbelt.
The introduction of the truck, which the police are paying MAN for the use of, comes following a successful five month trial that was conducted last year, and the truck will be used to police the motorways and major A roads up and down the UK, because it will be shared between all of the police forces. The truck will have a support team nearby consisting of two police bikes and an undercover car, and will be seen on UK roads for the first time on 30th March.
Recent figures show that there are 23% fewer traffic police on the roads at the end of 2014 when compared to figures from the end of 2010, and motoring groups and law groups have hit out at the government saying that this effectively means that only people caught by speed cameras and other static cameras will be caught offending. However, the lack of traffic officers means that fewer people committing offences like using their mobile phone while driving or driving without due care and attention will be caught.
Operation Tramline was conducted in five police force areas, Surrey, Hampshire, Sussex, Thames Valley and Warwickshire, and involved the Highways Agency. The operation was conducted for a period of three months and, during this time, it detected 462 offences including 179 mobile phone offences, which have been of concern to the government and safety groups especially over recent months and years.
126 seatbelt offences were also witnessed, along with 68 offences of not being in proper control of the vehicle and 18 of driving without due care and attention. One man was caught drinking a can of beer, while another was found to be brushing his teeth while driving. Yet another was reading a newspaper in slow moving traffic. Only 17 speeding offences were witnessed, suggesting that the truck will be used to capture those guilty of offences that static cameras cannot pick up on.