A week of action to improve road safety on the M1 helped to reduce collisions by almost a third, thanks in part to the deployment of ‘supercabs’.
The three custom-built Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks – also known as HGV supercabs – were acquired by Highways England in 2018 to help police catch people committing offences behind the wheel.
Thanks to the high vantage point, officers can look down on car and van drivers to catch people texting, using a smartphone or not wearing a seatbelt. The officers are also well placed to look across to other lorry drivers who are driving without due care and attention.
All three supercabs were used during the M1 safety week in May, during which time the number of collisions fell from 90 the previous week to 64. This is the fourth lowest number of collisions in 2019 and the second lowest outside school holidays.
The supercabs were used to catch a total of 200 dangerous drivers committing an offence, with each one stopped by a police officer. Hundreds of other motorists were given safety tips at motorway services.
Offences ranged from using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel, not wearing a seatbelt and careless driving.
Little changes can make a big difference
Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England, said: “We’ve been really impressed with the results of our week of action on the M1 which shows how making little changes to the way you drive can make a big difference to safety on our motorways.
“Our HGV supercabs helped the police identify almost 200 dangerous drivers who could have caused collisions if they hadn’t been pulled over, and our safety tips at motorway services and in the media also helped to make the M1 safer for everyone.
“As part of our current motorway driving campaign, we’re encouraging drivers to remember the basics of motorway driving to help keep us all moving so that the number of accidents continue to fall in the weeks and months ahead.”
PC Dave Lee from the safer roads team at Northamptonshire Police expressed his irritation at the number of drivers stopped during the safety week. “It’s always disappointing to catch drivers breaking the law.
“However, with a high number of motorists observed throughout the operation, these figures show it’s a small minority who continue to commit these types of offences.”
The supercabs are fitted with flashing lights for use in an emergency and have derestricted speed limiters to allow them to travel at higher speeds. Six police forces used them during the M1 safety week.
Earlier this year, Highways England released a video of a lorry driver making a credit card payment behind the wheel. In a separate video, Northamptonshire Police said they used a supercab to record a driver watching television, while another was filmed trying to cook their dinner.