HGV cabs under surveillance
Published: 19 October, 2009
MIDLANDS: Officers from the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) are going up in the world to catch dangerous truckers on camera.
For the past two weeks, specially trained officers from the group's Public Protection and Confidence team have driven across the Midlands motorway network in an HGV filming into the cabs of other trucks.
Because of their elevated position, officers are unable to look into the cabs of HGVs from their road-hugging patrol cars, meaning many offences go undetected. But by using an HGV themselves, they can catch drivers illegally using mobile phones, laptops or committing other offences that could put the public in danger.
PC Angus Nairn, from the Group, explained: "One police officer drives the truck while another sits in the passenger seat armed with a handheld video camera ready to film into the cab of truck as we overtake.
"If an offence is being committed or the driver's behaviour arouses suspicion, the officer will radio through to an unmarked police car following behind which will move into position, turn on its blue lights and signal for the truck to pull over."
If the driver disputes the reason for being stopped, the video footage can be used as evidence at court.
If stopped, the penalties for breaking the law range from kerbside education and a fine through to 11 points on their licence and up to 14 years in prison for death by dangerous driving.
"The penalties are stiff but they reflect the seriousness of their crimes and are proportionate to the risk distracted HGV drivers pose to other road users," said PC Nairn.
"My advice to truckers is stick to the rules of the road. If you don't, the chances are we'll catch you out and if we do you stand to lose more than just your licence.
"No reputable haulage company will ever employ a driver who has a bad driving history. You will lose your job and possibly your home, your partner and everything else you worked so hard to achieve."
But at a time when hauliers are felling the pinch from the recession, PC Nairn – who owned his own haulage company before becoming a police officer – is quick to point out that the crackdown is not about targeting the industry.
"Hauliers throughout the Midlands have been really supportive about the operation," he said. "They appreciate that by improving public safety we are also improving the public's perception of their industry."