Lives at risk with fewer roads police

02 February 2018

Operation Tramline taking place in Leicestershire

Operation Tramline

A successful crackdown on law breaking by lorry drivers has further illustrated the value of roads policing and the need to maintain adequate officer numbers.

‘Operation Tramline’ was carried out by officers in Leicestershire over two days to coincide with the Federation’s annual Roads Police Conference, held this year at Hinckley on 31 January and 1 February. The conference debated the future of roads policing with input from guest speakers, among them PFEW roads policing lead Jayne Willetts and Chief Constable Anthony Bangham from the NPCC.

The operation is run in conjunction with Highways England and involves use of an unmarked HGV cab to observe lorry drivers from an ideal vantage point. Offenders are flagged up to officers in a patrol car who then pull them over.

PC Tony Bunker said: “It was a successful two days from an enforcement point of view but also highlighted the extent to which the message about not using a mobile phone while driving is not getting through, even despite tougher penalties.” He described one of the more eye-opening incidents from the operation where an escort vehicle was being driven erratically. It was supposed to be warning the public about the presence of an abnormal length lorry but was instead seen straying repeatedly on to the hard shoulder. The driver had a phone in his lap watching a movie.

PC Bunker added: “The consequences of this could have been catastrophic.”

He continued: “We also have a huge problem with vocational lorry drivers not wearing seatbelts. They are driving every day for a living and yet they’ll still try and tell us they forgot to put their belt on, or they are worried about being trapped – research says they are more likely to die from not wearing the seatbelt than getting stuck.”

The results of the two days were:

  • no seatbelt – 32;
  • using a mobile phone – 12;
  • driver not in proper control – 5;
  • trailer in prohibited lane – 1;
  • no insurance – 2;
  • driving while disqualified – 1;
  • no MOT – 1;
  • no road tax – 1

Tim Rogers, national pursuits lead for PFEW, said: “I congratulate the team on these strong results. This sort of operation is invaluable for catching serial recidivists and sending out a strong message to the public that laws are there to be obeyed. But if we want to put a stop to the offending and the dangerous driving, and we want to reduce casualties, we can’t achieve that by simply increasing the penalties – it needs proper enforcement. There are a third fewer roads police officers today than eight years ago and fewer dedicated officers means less enforcement. There’s no escaping the fact that we need proper resourcing.”

Below is one of several tweets published by the Tramline team during the operation.