Press release

Lorry driver with foot on dashboard among 4,000 caught by unmarked HGV cab

Shocking footage released by Highways England today shows a trucker checking his phone while his right foot was on the dashboard.

Image of HGV

The driver, stopped by Humberside Police, was travelling from the M18 onto the M62 near Goole.

Another driver pulled over by Devon and Cornwall Police was found to have sent 10 replies to 10 texts within one hour; a driver in Surrey was seen trying to put toothpaste on a toothbrush; and a driver in the East Midlands was spotted steering with his knees while he ate his lunch and used his mobile phone.

The offenders were among more than 4,000 dangerous drivers on England’s roads caught by a single unmarked HGV cab over the past two years.

Latest statistics show that mobile phone use is a factor in an average of two deaths on the roads every month, with 124 people losing their lives over the past 5 years and 521 suffering a serious injury.

Richard Leonard, Highways England’s Head of Road Safety, said:

The HGV cab, which is funded by Highways England, has been patrolling motorways and major A roads over the past couple of years with the aim of improving road safety.

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.

It’s shocking that around two thirds of the drivers that were stopped were using their phones when the statistics show that mobile phone use contributes to two deaths every month on the roads.

The footage of the driver with his foot up on the dashboard is particularly alarming, and I dread to think what would have happened if he had needed to brake suddenly. We will continue to use the cab to tackle deaths and serious injuries and to encourage people to improve how they drive.

The elevated position of the cab allows police officers to film unsafe driving behaviour by pulling up alongside vehicles on motorways and major A roads. Drivers are then pulled over by police cars following behind.

Nearly two thirds of the drivers who were stopped were illegally using a mobile phone while driving, putting themselves and others at risk.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Roads Policing, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said:

Police forces are committed to keeping our roads safe and partnership with Highways England is absolutely crucial for that, as we can see from the thousands of offences detected by the HGV cab. Together with targeted local action by police officers, this has become an important element of our intelligence-led operations against dangerous driving.

Driving whilst distracted is completely unacceptable and police are also making use of the tougher new penalties to stop this dangerous behaviour by ensuring that offenders face the full weight of law.

People have to think about the consequences of their actions - a moment’s distraction can change innocent lives. It is never a risk worth taking.

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.

Officers gave verbal advice to 388 drivers, issued 838 fixed or graduated penalty notices, and filed 3,318 traffic offence reports – usually requiring attendance at a driver education course. There were also 113 prosecutions for more serious offences.

Reasons for stopping drivers included:

  • using mobile phones – 2,508
  • not wearing seatbelts – 901
  • not in proper control of vehicles – 253
  • speeding – 249

Earlier this year, the government doubled the penalty for drivers caught using their phones at the wheel. Motorists now receive 6 points on their licence and a £200 fine – up from the previous 3 points and £100 fine.

A new THINK! road safety video was also launched last month, directed by the team behind the video for Pharrell Williams’s hit song Happy, to highlight the dangers of using your phone while driving.

It uses innovative filming, is shot in the style of a music video with an edgy soundtrack from celebrated musician Aphex Twin, and includes numerous pink kittens to highlight how much drivers miss if they are distracted by looking at their handheld phone.

More details about the law on mobile phone use are available the Using mobile phones when driving page.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.

Published 6 November 2017