A police operation targeting misbehaving motorists is making use of a specialised vehicle to catch offenders on the county’s roads.
Operation Tramway is seeing officers make use of a Mercedes Benz Supercab vehicle, giving them an excellent vantage point to see what drivers might be doing behind the wheel.
Although the police have observed a number of motorists using their mobile phones behind the wheel, it is actually people not wearing their seatbelts or wearing them incorrectly that is spotted most frequently.
The Supercab itself is unmarked and an officer riding beside the driver is responsible for videoing offences committed.
It is usually followed by a number of unmarked police cars who are able to pull over offending drivers, while also separately looking out for those who might be speeding.
PC Mark Russell, said: “It’s the elevated position from the cab that allows us to see what drivers might be doing on their laps and it’s not just cars either, we can also look into HGV cabs. We’re not being secretive about this vehicle being out there and those motorists that are driving responsibly absolutely love knowing that we’re doing this, they get a kick out of it.
“Some people think that we’re being sneaky, trying to catch people out, but if drivers are behaving responsibly, as they should be on the roads, there’s nothing to complain about.
“Some of the things we’ve seen drivers do have been quite incredible, drivers watching Youtube, we had a guy who had his phone in one hand and his credit card in the other buying something off Amazon. There was another one where a guy was just looking down into his lap the whole time and it turned out he was facetiming his family.”
The Supercab is actually one of three owned by Highways England, who work with police forces across the country to combat irresponsible driving on their network.
Marie Biddilph, assistant regional safety co-ordinator for Highways England, said: “In the last three years these vehicles have detected more than 10,000 offences, on a usual day Warwickshire Police will probably expect to spot 35-45.”
It’s not just distractions that Operation Tramway is focussing on, speeding and drink driving are part of the focus, while improving the safety of motorcycle riders is also key.
Last year in Warwickshire there were 36 fatal accidents and 322 serious accidents, with motorcyclists making up a significant percentage of the total.
The operation is being supported by Carol Close, whose son Luke, a policeman for Staffordshire Police, died last year in a motorcycle accident whilst off-duty.
Carol said: “He was out for a ride with his friends on a road he was not used to when he hit a tree. As a mum your life stops when that happens. I wanted to know what I could do to help and that’s when I came across DocBike.
“I want to encourage bikers to take up the opportunities for advanced training, I simply don’t feel that riders are usually given enough training before they go out onto the roads, they can benefit from upskilling a bit and slowing down.
“The day that Luke died part of me died too. I will never recover from the devastation and heartbreak, I am forever incomplete. He made the world a better place and touched the hearts of everyone he met.
“I urge all motorcyclists to please invest in yourselves. Sign up to a course that will help enhance your ride by upskilling you, learn how to prepare for the unexpected and even how to save a fellow biker’s life. It’s no use having the dream bike if you aren’t going to be here to ride it.
“As Luke’s Legacy we have a DocBike in Staffordshire, this puts a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service Doctor or critical care paramedic on a motorcycle. We are working to eradicate motorcycle deaths through engagement, injury and roadside critical care. Please take a look at the DocBike website to learn more about our work.”
The DocBike charity combines a highly qualified (consultant level) doctor or critical care paramedic with two wheels to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads due to motorcycle collisions.
Wherever possible, this doctor or paramedic also works on the local air ambulance. It is part of their every-day job, to treat and save the most severely injured and sick patients and help them to reach hospital alive.
Warwickshire Police are also supporting the Project Edward campaign 14-18 September 20, for ‘Every day without a road death by encouraging bikers to upskill.
Sergeant Shaun Bridle of Warwickshire Police said “We are encouraging bikers to upskill by attending courses such as BikeSafe and Biker Down to help them reduce risk and their chance of becoming a casualty on the roads. It’s an unfortunate reality that motorcyclists continue to be over-represented in collision figures, and injured or killed as a result of these collisions. Currently within Warwickshire, 40% of our fatal collision investigations involve a motorcyclist and we’re keen to do all we can to bring these figures down.”
BikeSafe is an introduction into advanced driving skills run by the force costing £65, while BikerDown helps teach people how they can help if they arrive at the scene of a motorcycle accident.