Police ‘supercab’ crime-fighting trucks are now in use on the A1(M) motorway as part of a multi-agency safety push. The HGV tractor units, which have been modified for police work, are used to spot and film drivers breaking the law – often by using handheld phones or failing to wear a seatbelt – before conventional police cars pull them over.
The cabs are now being used as part of a joint operation between police forces, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and National Highways, the organisation in charge of England’s strategic road network. The A1 operation, which is dubbed Operation Mainline, began on March 21 and ends on April 1, in the hope of reducing the number of incidents that occur on the busy route.
As well as implementing supercab patrols, the DVSA will also be operating vehicle checks at a number of locations. And National Highways’ traffic officers will be stationed at service stations including Washington and Wetherby to advise drivers about basic vehicle maintenance.
Operation Mainline is part of the ongoing Operation Tramline scheme, which first saw the supercabs enter service in 2015. The operation has recorded more than 26,000 offences, including almost 8,000 incidents of drivers failing to wear a seatbelt and more than 6,800 incidents of illegal mobile phone use behind the wheel.
The more intriguing offences recorded during Operation Tramline include a driver steering a lorry with his knees while eating lunch and using his phone in the East Midlands. And in West Mercia, officers saw a driver eating lasagne with a knife and fork while driving along a motorway. Similarly, Surrey Police spotted a HGV driver boiling a kettle on the dashboard, while one driver was caught twice in one day – in the morning and afternoon - using their mobile phone while driving along the A38 in Derbyshire.
“Safety is our highest priority at National Highways,” said the organisation’s regional director Simon Boyle. “The Operation Tramline cabs are an important part of our commitment to tackling dangerous driving and those who take unnecessary risks with their own safety and that of others on the road.
“The number of people found not wearing their seatbelt, or using their mobile phone while driving is quite alarming. Through this fortnight of action on the A1 we want to make all of our roads safer by raising awareness and encouraging motorists to consider their driving behaviour. It’s great to be collaborating with our partners in the police on this important campaign.”
Meanwhile Superintendent Emma Aldred, head of specialist operations at North Yorkshire Police, said she was confident Operation Mainline would catch a number of offenders who might otherwise go unpunished.
“As police officers, we see too many people taking serious risks on our roads – and those risks can, and often do, cost lives. We are pleased to join Northumbria Police and Durham Constabulary in working with National Highways to create a really robust team, in order to target those who break the law on our road network. This operation has shown remarkable results previously and we know this time will be no different. Officers will be covering the stretch of the A1 24/7 and will not let up in their efforts to target those who have no regard for others on our roads.”