HUNDREDS of Essex drivers have been snared by an unmarked HGV ‘supercab’ in the last year.

The subtle scheme is part of a bid to improve safety on high-speed roads across the east and south east of England.

Three supercabs, funded by Highways England, first took to the roads 12 months ago and, across the south east, have now recorded more than 900 offences.

In Essex, 230 vehicles were stopped and a total of 237 offences were found to have been committed.

They included:

  • Using Mobile Phone 55
  • Not in Proper Control 3
  • Not Wearing Seatbelt 97
  • Speeding 15
  • Traffic Offence Report 134

In total, 93 fines have been issued while ten prosecutions were brought.

Colin Evans, Regional Safety Coordinator in the South East, at Highways England, said: “Hundreds of thousands of drivers use our roads every day and the vast majority are sensible behind the wheel but some are putting themselves and others at risk.

“We introduced the three new HGV supercabs last year to help keep the roads safe and tackle dangerous driving by people who have either got into bad habits or are simply ignoring the law.”

Mr Evans added: “The cabs have helped to identify over 3,000 unsafe drivers over the past year, and we hope they will encourage everyone to think about what more they could do to improve how they drive.”

The three ‘supercabs’ patrol motorways and major A roads.

They allow police officers to film evidence of unsafe driving behaviour by pulling up alongside vehicles, and drivers are then pulled over by police cars following a short distance behind.

The supercabs have a derestricted speed limiter which means they can travel at speeds up to the national speed limit, and flashing lights have been installed for use by police forces in an emergency.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Roads Policing, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said: “Operation Tramline is a successful collaboration between the police and Highways England.

“We remain committed to tackling those who take unnecessary risks with their own safety and the safety of others on our roads by allowing themselves to be distracted while driving. The consequences of these actions are often devastating.

"We will continue to work alongside Highways England on Operation Tramline and will prosecute drivers who ignore the risks.”

Other footage captured using the cabs in their first year included a van driver who was spotted with no hands on the wheel as he used one hand to change gear and the other to hold his mobile phone.

The incident happened as he travelled along the A38 near Derby, even though he pulled into a service station to stop just a few seconds later.

The driver of a pick-up truck was also filmed without his hands on the wheel as he travelled along the M60 near Eccles in Greater Manchester. The footage shows the driver with both hands on his phone as he writes a text message.