- Video report by ITV News Correspondent Stacey Foster
Three drivers filmed using their mobile phones are among thousands to have been caught breaking the law by police driving special heavy goods vehicles (HGV).
One of the most shocking video examples caught by the new HGV supercabs showed a lorry driver with no hands on the steering wheel while making a credit card payment.
He was one of 3,000 law-breaking drivers filmed by police from a fleet of three Highways England-funded HGV cabs in the past year.
The cabs give officers an elevated position to observe and film unsafe driving on England’s motorways and major A-roads as part of Operation Tramline.
Other footage captured from the cabs in their first year of use included a van driver with no hands on the wheel.
He was using one hand to change gear and the other to hold his phone.
The incident happened on the A38 near Derby, even though he pulled into a service station to stop just a few seconds later.
The driver of a pick-up truck was filmed using both hands to compose a text message as he travelled along the M60 near Eccles, Greater Manchester.
How successful are the HGVs?
Around one in three of the drivers filmed breaking the law by the cabs had someone in their vehicle not wearing a seat belt.
The second most common offence was a driver using a hand-held mobile phone.
Police issued 462 penalty charge notices and filed 2,533 traffic offence reports, which usually require someone to attend a driver education course.
There were also 73 prosecutions for more serious offences.
Highways England head of road safety Richard Leonard said: “Hundreds of thousands of drivers use our roads every day and the vast majority are sensible behind the wheel, but some are putting themselves and others at risk.
“We introduced the three new HGV supercabs last year to help keep the roads safe and tackle dangerous driving by people who have either got into bad habits or are simply ignoring the law.
“The cabs have helped to identify over 3,000 unsafe drivers over the past year, and we hope our week of action on the M1 will encourage everyone to think about what more they could do to improve how they drive.”
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said: “Operation Tramline is a successful collaboration between the police and Highways England.
“We remain committed to tackling those who take unnecessary risks with their own safety and the safety of others on our roads by allowing themselves to be distracted while driving.
“The consequences of these actions are often devastating.
“We will continue to work alongside Highways England on Operation Tramline and will prosecute drivers who ignore the risks.”
Tom Cotton, the Road Haulage Association’s head of licensing and infrastructure policy, said: “We need to improve road safety.
“There’s a small minority of drivers whose actions endanger other road users, often with tragic consequences.
“Operation Tramline is an invaluable initiative to help police catch the drivers putting themselves and others at risk.”
The HGV supercabs will be deployed on the M1 in the coming week.
David Beckham was last week banned from driving for six months after a member of the public photographed him using his mobile phone while driving a Bentley in London’s West End.
Since March 2017, motorists caught using a hand-held phone have faced incurring six points on their licence and a £200 fine – up from the previous penalty of three points and £100.