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Hampshire Police has prosecuted 66 drivers after a five-day operation targeting motorists driving dangerously.
Four vehicles were dedicated to the operation from Monday September 26th to to Friday 30th along the length of the M27 and M3.
Throughout Operation Tramline, one HGV-qualified officer drove the cab whilst an observer recorded and videoed any offences committed – with the cab providing the officers the great advantage of a high viewing platform.
Sergeant Paul Diamond, who led the operation said:
"It's a non enforcement approach where we can listen to their concerns and then respond to them.
"We have learned from these events that professional LGV drivers are concerned about the number of drivers that they can see who are distracted or using mobile phones whilst driving.
"Under normal circumstances, it is difficult for police to observe and prosecute these offences due to the height of lorry cabs and the difficulties with viewing into the driving position.
"Operation Tramline was delivered as a direct result of these concerns being reported to us. We identified an appropriate platform to view the offences and then supported these observations with marked vehicles, running the
op in September to coincide with the THINK national campaign on motorway safety."
Results of the operation included:
84 vehicles stopped due to offences being witnessed;
55 per cent of these were commercial vehicles
39 drivers were prosecuted for driving whilst using mobile phones
26 drivers were prosecuted for being distracted or not in proper control of their vehicles
Distraction offences included one man found eating a pear with a knife, and another motorist who was spotted drinking coffee whilst using a laptop and writing down the answers to a quiz on the radio – all whilst driving a vehicle.
As well as the distraction and mobile phone offences, a further 48 assorted other offences were identified by the team, ranging from defective tyres to insufficient drivers' rest.
Sergeant Diamond said:
"41 of these offences would not have been identified by regular patrol vehicles and so this operation was very much a success.
"The new Joint Operations Unit will be looking at the possibility of running a similar operation in the future to target both Hampshire and Thames Valley Police area motorway networks.
"We received significant vocal support from drivers during the week and were encouraged by the reaction of the road using community.
"This should send a very loud message out to motorists. If you are caught using your mobile phone whilst driving you will face a £60 fine and three points on your licence.
"Should you crash whilst driving distracted or on your phone, causing death by careless driving is punishable by 14 years in prison and we will seek to robustly prosecute anyone committing these offences.
"Do not put yourself or others at risk."
The next Stammtisch event is on November 2 at Fleet Services on the M3 southbound.