Police using undercover HGVs to spy on drivers

A lorry driver was caught eating a lasagne with a knife and fork was just one of the shocking stops police made on the M6 motorway. One driver steered with his knees while eating lunch and another driver boiling a kettle on the dashboard. Others included people driving while reading, watching DVDs, undressing, holding mobile phones in both hands and doing their internet banking.

Details of the gobsmacking traffic stops were released as Merseyside Police take part in a week of action on the M6 which started on Monday, May 24. Operation Vertebrae is a campaign taking place along the full length of the M6, the longest motorway in the country, with police officers patrolling in Highways England’s unmarked HGV supercabs. From their elevated viewpoint, police said they will be able to spot people driving illegally and dangerously – whatever vehicle they might be in.

* What’s the worst thing you’ve seen people doing while they were driving? Tell us in the comments Six police forces are taking part – Merseyside, Cumbria, Lancashire, Cheshire Central Motorway Police Group, Warwickshire – and the North West Commercial Vehicle Unit. Highways England deals with around 180 reported incidents on the M6 every day.

These include a number of crashes, with 4,222 reported on the M6 in 2019. Since 2015, more than 20,300 offences have been recorded by Highways England on the M6. The most common offences included:

  • Using a mobile phone – 5,975
  • Not wearing a seatbelt – 5,648
  • Not in proper control of vehicle – 1,423
  • Speeding – 1,165

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4) Press Save changes and that’s it! Highways England Head of Road Safety, Jeremy Phillips, said: “The number of people found using their mobile phone while driving is quite alarming. You are four times more likely to be in a crash if you use your phone, and if caught face a GBP200 fine and six points on your licence.

“Through this week of action on the M6 we want to make all of our roads safer by raising awareness and encouraging motorists to consider their driving behaviour.” Keep up to date with traffic and travel in your area by entering your postcode below Consequences for the drivers range from warnings to fixed penalty notices, court summons or arrest.

Inspector Carl McNulty of Merseyside’s Roads Policing Unit said: “We’re pleased to be taking an active role in this national operation. “Driving with an insecure load on the motorway is incredibly dangerous, and an offence we regularly issue penalty points for. Officers will be proactively assessing HGVs to ensure that they are adhering to the guidelines.

“In 2020, throughout Merseyside, there were 1,073 tickets issued by officers to drivers using a handheld mobile device and 1,042 given for drivers not wearing a seatbelt. “These were our fifth and sixth most prominent offences for tickets issued by officers and demonstrates that despite the obvious dangers, people are still frequently ignoring them. “That is totally unacceptable.

Driving on the motorway demands full attention and focus, and we’ll be out all week, at all hours, making sure that drivers face the consequences if they aren’t giving it that attention.”

Throughout the M6 week of action, Highways England traffic officers will also be joining forces with the emergency services and road safety partners to provide free tyre checks and safety tips to drivers at motorway services.

The multi-agency operation will also see vehicle checks carried out at services involving the DVSA, Health and Safety Executive and the Home Office.