Truckers watching laptops at the wheel to be target of tractor operation by traffic cops

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A tractor unit will be drafted in by traffic officers as they look to catch HGV drivers offending at the wheel.

Police across Cleveland and Durham will use the unmarked vehicle on the roads they carry out extra patrols as part of a national operation to catch the drivers of large goods vehicles committing offences.

The Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit (CDSOU) will use a camera to film any offences, such as driving whilst on a mobile phone or even watching a laptop while behind the wheel.

Travelling in the tractor unit will make it easier for the officers to see into the cab of a large goods vehicle by being at the same level and therefore they can see any offences clearly.

The initiative, called Operation Tramline, is a national operation run by Highways England and it will take place around the UK.

The CDSOU has had previous success with the operation.

Two months into the operation in 2013, officers had issued 14 fixed penalty notices to large goods vehicle drivers for not wearing seatbelts and using a mobile phone while driving.

Inspector Wendy Tinkler said: “Having had previous success with this operation, we were pleased to take part in it again with the support of Highways England.

“Every day we see drivers putting their own lives and the lives of other road users at risk.

"It is exceptionally worrying when the driver of a large goods vehicle is driving whilst committing offences, as obviously these vehicles are significantly heavier and larger which means that a collision could be considerably more serious.

“We work all year round to try to save lives on the roads of Cleveland and Durham and we will continue to do everything possible to reduce the risk of serious harm and fatalities on our road networks.”

Anthony Thorpe, from Highways England, said: “Road safety is a priority for Highways England and that’s why we’re working with Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit on this initiative to tackle poor driving behaviour.

“Doing what we can to reduce incidents on our network not only improves safety but it reduces congestion and provides more reliable journeys for Cleveland and Durham drivers.

“Our aim is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads by 40% over the next five years.”