Its a story which started here in Plymouth but has quickly spread around the UK media over the last few days:
UK police are cracking down on law-flouting motorists from iconic heights. Radio-equipped officers are setting up shop on the upper floors of double-decker buses to peer into the cars of passing motorists to see if they're using their handheld phones or failing to wear seatbelts.
The buses' superior vantage points and mobile nature are proving to be particularly effective tools. A weekend operation in Plymouth, Devon, caught over 130 motorists, including 39 mobile phone users and 36 unbelted drivers. Other motorists were arrested for speeding and impaired driving.
Innovative operation uses unusual vantage point to combat fatal five driving behaviours
Two Plymouth police officers, PC Andy Llewellyn and PC Colin Strachan, have come up with an innovative approach to spotting drivers who are exhibiting the “fatal five” driving offences. On Friday 24th March 2017, police officers and cadets took their seats on the upper deck of a double decker bus, kindly supplied by Plymouth Citybus, giving them the perfect eagle-eye view of drivers in their vehicles.
Marked and unmarked police vehicles then responded to any offences that were spotted by the loftily positioned police spotters. Officers from Dorset’s No Excuse campaign also took part in the operation. The operation concentrated on drivers using phones and other mobile devices handheld while driving. Using a mobile device handheld while driving has been illegal since 2003, and since March 1st the penalties for doing so have doubled to a £200 fine and six points on the driver’s license.
PC Andy Llewellyn said: “This is a great example of how we can maximise policing resources by working closely with partner organisations in the community. We are extremely grateful to Plymouth Citybus for providing us with a bus and driver for this operation. “Additionally we have had great support from inside the Force from the Alliance roads policing team, professional development unit, Special Constabulary, response officers and the Police Cadets.”
The five driving offences which can lead to a serious or fatal collision are, as above, using a mobile device handheld and also excessive speed, drink or drug driving, not wearing seatbelts and careless driving. PC Llewellyn said: “Careless and inconsiderate driving is something that people may not recognise as a fatal factor. In Plymouth and across the force area we are looking to address this and the other driving behaviours in the fatal five to improve road safety awareness.”
Plymouth Citybus added: “Being the largest transport operation in Plymouth, our passenger safety is our number one priority. We are glad that we can support this innovative approach to driving offences on our roads. This is one of a long line of moves we have made to make the roads of Plymouth a safer place for all users.” Devon & Cornwall Police
Its not that unusual for Police to use buses. Every now and again police will run ‘decoy buses’ in areas where buses have come under attack by yobs. I am sure this has happened in Plymouth in the past to. The use of buses to catch motorists is a new innovation and seems to be well received and most of the reporting I have read is very positive.