MORE than 300 reckless drivers have been caught in a single day using their phones, watching movies and not wearing seat belts by an undercover police lorry patrol.
Road safety experts said they were ‘staggered’ by the level of offences by motorists who are ‘willing to put themselves and others at risk on our roads’.
Warwickshire Police filmed the incidents for Operation Tramline, a national campaign with Highways England using HGVs to catch dangerous drivers in the act.
A record 317 offences were recorded in the West Midlands on November 13 — including 69 drivers who were using a mobile phone and 97 who failed to wear a seat belt.
In one clip, officers caught a lorry driver who was texting while travelling at 60mph on the M40 with a tractor that he had failed to strap down properly on the trailer.
An officer making the recording is heard saying: ‘There are torn up straps, I don’t like it. And he’s on his phone and no seat belt and with a tractor on the back. He’s texting away, swiping up on his phone.’
While police continued to film, the driver even took his left hand off the wheel and rested it on his chin while texting with his right. An unmarked police car with its sirens and lights on followed the lorry. The stunned officer says: ‘The [police car] is lit up like a Christmas tree but still no reaction.’
Another driver of a Range Rover was caught using WhatsApp as he drifted on to the hard shoulder of the motorway. Police also filmed a lorry driver who was watching a video while he was behind the wheel.
Sgt Carl Stafford said: ‘It is extremely disappointing that, even with a reduced amount of traffic from the pandemic, we are seeing an increase in offences.’ Highways England assistant regional safety coordinator Marie Biddulph described the figures as ‘frustrating and disappointing’.