Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
Fri, 3 March 2023 at 12:01 am GMT
A driver was caught by police using just his elbow to steer a car transporter on a busy motorway.
National Highways released footage of the incident on the M40 near Gaydon in Warwickshire.
The Government-owned company responsible for England’s motorways and major A roads said the driver was initially “oblivious” to the police officers filming him as they drove alongside his car-carrying vehicle in an unmarked HGV cab.
The driver quickly put his hands on the wheel when the officers caught his attention.
He was then pulled over by a police car travelling behind.
This was one of three incidents from which footage was released showing distracted driving in late January and early February.
A man was filmed texting on a mobile phone and not wearing a seatbelt while driving a horsebox on the A46 Coventry Eastern Bypass.
In another example, a woman was caught participating in a video call while holding a mobile phone as she drove along the M40 near Junction 16 for Lapworth, Warwickshire.
National Highways said more than 33,000 offences have been recorded since it launched Operation Tramline in 2015.
The initiative involves police officers being deployed in HGV cabs so they can film drivers from an elevated position.
The most common offences are not wearing a seatbelt (9,962) and illegal use of a mobile phone (8,368), followed by 2,257 incidents of drivers not being in proper control of their vehicle.
Consequences for drivers range from warnings to fixed penalty notices, court summons or arrests.
National Highways head of road safety Jeremy Phillips said: “We are committed to reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured while travelling on our roads by 50% 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.
“Hundreds of thousands of drivers use our roads every day and the vast majority are sensible behind the wheel, but some are putting themselves and others at risk.
“Through this week of action we want to encourage motorists to think about their driving and to adopt safer behaviours.
“But those who continue to pose a risk should be aware that we are working with our police partners to make sure they are spotted and prevented from causing serious harm to themselves or others.”
Officers from eight forces will patrol the M1 between London and Leeds in unmarked HGV cabs next week.
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing operations Commander Kyle Gordon said: “We are pleased to be working with our key partner National Highways once again as we work to reduce the danger caused on one of our busiest roads, and beyond, by drivers who allow themselves to be distracted while driving.
“Too many people are killed or seriously injured on our roads every year.
“My officers have to visit the families of those killed on our roads five times a day, every day of the week.
“I am very happy to support all initiatives that can help reduce these numbers.”
Department for Transport figures show 67 people were killed and a further 686 were seriously injured in crashes on Britain’s roads in 2021 when a distraction within a vehicle was a contributory factor.