The M1 safety week was so successful that Highways England is planning similar schemes elsewhere.

A week-long safety initiative on the M1 cut the motorway’s accident rate by a third, according to the government-run company responsible for the road.

Highways England’s M1 safety week ran from Monday, May 13 to Sunday, May 19, and saw emergency services to provide free tyre checks and safety tips to drivers at motorway services, while all three of the organisation’s ‘supercab’ police HGVs take to the road, helping enforce the law among truck drivers. In total, police say nearly 200 “dangerous drivers” were stopped at motorway services, while “hundreds” were given safety advice.

With the help of the supercab trucks (below), police stopped 57 drivers who were using mobile phones, 37 who were not wearing seatbelts and 26 who were driving carelessly or not in proper control of their vehicles. Officers filed 133 traffic offence reports, which usually require drivers to attend a driver education course, and there were also five prosecutions for more serious offences.

Police Unmarked Supercab HGVs

As a result of this action, Highways England says the number of collisions fell to 64 - down from 90 the previous week. That meant the week saw the fourth-lowest accident rate of any so far in 2019 and the second-lowest outside school holidays.

And in light of the safety week’s success, the organisation is planning further similar action on other motorways up and down the country. In the meantime, though, Highways England says it is continuing to deliver its safety campaign, which highlights the basic rules of motorway driving, such as keeping left except when overtaking and obeying ‘red X’ signs.

M1 motorway in UK on a sunny day

Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England, said the government-run company was hoping its safety initiatives would help accident rates continue to fall.

“We’ve been really impressed with the results of our week of action on the M1 which shows how making little changes to the way you drive can make a big difference to safety on our motorways,” he said. “Our HGV supercabs helped the police identify almost 200 dangerous drivers who could have caused collisions if they hadn’t been pulled over, and our safety tips at motorway services and in the media also helped to make the M1 safer for everyone.

“As part of our current motorway driving campaign, we’re encouraging drivers to remember the basics of motorway driving to help keep us all moving so that the number of accidents continue to fall in the weeks and months ahead.”

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Meanwhile PC Dave Lee, from the Safer Roads Team at Northamptonshire Police, said: “It is always disappointing to catch drivers breaking the law. However, with a high number of motorists observed throughout the operation, these figures show it’s a small minority who continue to commit these types of offences.

“Our main priority is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads by clamping down on the fatal four offences, which are speeding, drink/drug driving, seatbelt and mobile phone use. Working with our partners on such operations enables us to take a strong and robust approach to identify road traffic offences.”

Police car with emergency services at car accident road scene