Lorry drivers' bad habits to come under the spotlight

LORRY drivers with dangerous habits will come under the police spotlight next week.

Hellaby-based South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership said any irresponsible HGV drivers using their mobile phones, not wearing seatbelts or even flouting the Tachograph rules, should be aware that what seems to be an ordinary HGV tractor unit driving along the county’s highways will be picking up on their every fault.

A spokeswoman said: “The HGV unit driven by officers from South Yorkshire Police will patrol the motorway and trunk road network, noting the behaviour of drivers of HGVs and other large vehicles that cannot be observed from a standard patrol car.

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“The bespoke lorry tractor unit, fitted out with several video cameras, is being supplied to South Yorkshire Police by Highways England as part of Operation Ophelia — a nationwide initiative that has been successfully run in the past.”

Last year’s South Yorkshire operation ran for five days in July and saw officers dealing with 107 vehicles, the spokeswoman said.

Lorry drivers were stopped for a variety of offences, including for not wearing their seatbelts, using mobile phones whilst driving, using the hard shoulder and contravening red lights.

Five drivers were barred from driving their vehicles for either breaching their permitted driving hours or because of the condition of their vehicles, while another 12 were found to have Tachograph offences.

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Two foreign drivers were found not to have paid the required UK road levy.

PC Pete Burke, of South Yorkshire Police, who will lead the operation, described last year’s results as “extremely worthwhile”.

He added: “Heavy goods vehicles have a very big presence on our motorways and the majority of drivers carry out their duties in a very professional manner.

“This leaves a minority who have some very dangerous driving habits, which if things go wrong, can result in catastrophic incidents on our motorway network.

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“These drivers often get away with bad driving behaviour simply because the sheer size and height of their vehicles makes it difficult for police patrols to actually witness any dangerous activity within the lorry cabs.

"Thanks to the tractor unit last year we were able to stop drivers who were displaying bad habits and speak to them about safe driving practices in an effort to influence their attitudes and change their future driving behaviour for the better.”