Police to use unmarked HGVs to catch drivers out and issue fines from today - even for drinking tea

A man drinking tea when driving

The unmarked HGV caught a driver drinking tea, which resulted in a £100 fine

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 29/09/2023

- 00:01

A campaign earlier this year saw almost 700 driving offences in the space of a week

National Highways will launch a new campaign today which could see drivers filmed from a height to catch people not paying attention to the road.

National Highways have previously launched Operation Tramline which is part of its goal to decrease the number of people killed or injured on the road network by 40 per cent.

The previous operation saw three plain white HGVs loaned to police forces to help improve safety on England’s road network.

The elevated position of the unmarked HGV cab allows police forces to film any unsafe behaviour, including using their phone, being distracted by people in the backseat or even drinking tea.

WATCH NOW: Drivers caught sipping on tea at the wheel

One motorist was caught by police after being filmed holding a cup of tea in his right hand and using the steering wheel in his left hand.

He can be seen drinking the tea and removing his hands from the wheel until the police officer tells him to put it down and concentrate on driving.

The man was issued with a traffic offence report for not being in proper control of the vehicle.

He was also slapped with three penalty points on his driving licence and handed a £100 fine.

Operation Pennine will launch on Friday, September 29 and will target drivers along the M62 in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside, West Yorkshire and Hull.

This operation will then continue throughout the month of October, with thousands of drivers expected to be monitored.

Sergeant Ryan Burt, of West Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing Unit, said: “By having an officer observing and filming from inside a HGV cab, we can see what lorry drivers are doing, as well as other drivers.

“We are involved in regular activity throughout the year and repeatedly see drivers using their mobile phones or in other ways not being in proper control of their vehicle."

Hundreds of thousands of people travel on the M62 every day, with the motorway seeing a staggering 28,607 incidents last year.

Operation Freeway took place between Leeds and London in early March and caught almost 700 offences along the M1.

A total of 663 vehicles were stopped, with 691 offences being uncovered. More than 230 people were caught not wearing their seat belt, which was the most common offence.

Commenting on Operation Pennine, Nicola Clayton, National Highways’ Regional Safety Programme Manager for Yorkshire and the North East, said: “Hundreds of thousands of drivers use our roads every day and the vast majority are sensible behind the wheel.

“However, some drivers are putting themselves and others at risk through using mobile phones, driving without a seatbelt or even handling a boiling hot drink at the wheel.

“We are committed to reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured while travelling on our roads by 50 per cent by 2025 and we have a long-term ambition for zero harm.

“To achieve that we need to tackle the unsafe driving behaviour that we sadly still encounter. Through this month of action, we want to encourage motorists to think about their driving and to adopt safer behaviours.


A HGV driver with two phones

This driver was caught using two phones when at the wheel of his HGV


In addition to the HGV cab patrols, National Highways partners will take part in the month of action at motorways services offering advice to drivers and carrying out vehicle checks.

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