Nearly one in ten: that's the proportion of truck drivers that were caught committing road offences during Operation Marathon - part of an ongoing initiative from North Yorkshire Police to reduce accidents on the region's roads.
Last year, more than 2,800 people were injured in road accidents in North Yorkshire. Whilst speed is an issue in a high number of cases, “distracted” driving behaviour can also be a major contributory factor in accidents and injuries.
During March, North Yorkshire Police carried out Operation Marathon aimed specifically at identifying road offences amongst HGV drivers. Using an un-liveried truck, “undercover trucker” officers drove alongside HGV vehicles on the A1, A168 and A19, and used a camcorder to record driver behaviour in the neighbouring cab.
Almost 1,000 HGVs were tracked during the operation, and 86 offences were recorded. Most of these were distraction offences where the driver was not paying due care and attention to the road because they were also engaged in a mobile phone call. Poor lane behaviour, dangerous parking and failure to use seat belts were also recorded.
Sergeant Yvonne Taylor was part of the Operation, and she explains:
“For the most part, truck drivers are responsible on the roads because their livelihood depends on it, so we were surprised at the scale of anti-social driving behaviour that we recorded during this operation.
“As a rule, the difference in height between a normal police car and an HGV cab makes it harder to observe what is actually going on in the cab. But for Op Marathon we were in a truck ourselves, so we were able to see right into the cabs, and a relatively high proportion of drivers were not fully concentrating on their driving. It is easy to be blasé when you are used to driving long distances, but if you’re distracted and something unexpected does happen, reaction times are slower and it can lead to an accident. Obviously, with a vehicle the size of an HGV that can have serious consequences.
“Similar operations have run in other police force areas, and truckers have been caught engaged in some incredible behaviour, such as driving whilst watching a DVD or with their feet on the dashboard.
“I’m glad to say we didn’t see any of that in our operation, but we still want to send the message out there that any sort of distraction is bad for driving, whether you’re in an HGV or a normal car. Anti-social drivers are dangerous and will not be tolerated on North Yorkshire’s roads. We’ll use every tactic we can to bring them to book.”Last modified: May 9, 2018