New unmarked tractor units to take to the road to catch dangerous drivers

Three new unmarked tractor units are to take to the roads as part of an initiative to tackle dangerous driving on motorways and major A roads in England, Highways England has announced.

Highways England has ordered the three Mercedes Actros tractor units after a single HGV used by police forces across the country has helped to catch more than 4000 dangerous drivers in its first two years of operation.

The three new tractor units will patrol motorways and main trunk roads, and have been fitted with wide-angle cameras to capture unsafe driving behaviour. They also have a derestricted speed limiter, which means they can travel to the national speed limit, and flashing lights have been installed for use by police forces in an emergency.

These allow police officers to film evidence of unsafe driving behaviour by pulling up alongside vehicles. Drivers are then pulled over by police cars following behind.

Richard Leonard, Highways England’s head of road safety, said: “We’ve found that the vast majority of drivers are sensible behind the wheel but a few have got into bad habits, or are simply ignoring the law and putting themselves and others at risk.

“We’ve therefore decided to fund two extra unmarked HGV cabs to continue to target dangerous driving on England’s motorways and major A roads, improving safety for everyone.”

In total, 28 police forces have taken part in the HGV cab safety initiative since it began in April 2015, pulling over 4,176 drivers in relation to 5,039 offences in its first two years.

Nearly two thirds of the drivers who were stopped were illegally using a mobile phone while driving. Other offences have included a driver being pulled over by Devon and Cornwall Police who was found to have sent 10 replies to 10 texts within one hour; a driver in Surrey who was seen trying to put toothpaste on a toothbrush; and a driver in the East Midlands who was spotted steering with his knees while he ate his lunch and used his mobile phone.

The three new tractor units are being supplied as part of a three-year contract with Dawsonrentals, which will also be responsible for maintaining the vehicles.

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