PCC out on the A14 to see roads policing in action

Tim Passmore, Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk spent an interesting couple of hours on the A14 this week with the Constabulary’s Roads Policing Unit taking part in Operation Wyken.

This week-long operation saw officers from the joint Suffolk and Norfolk roads policing unit team up with colleagues from Essex Police on this road safety enforcement campaign.

Tim said, “I was very pleased to be invited to see our Roads Policing Unit is action on this important operation. The A14 is a crucial route through our county and artery of international importance; keeping the road free-flowing is extremely important.

“I was absolutely appalled by the flagrant lack of respect for the law. In the short time I was with them, officers stopped half a dozen HGV drivers for not wearing a seatbelt. I find it absolutely staggering that drivers set off on a journey without protecting themselves, and other drivers, by simply putting a seat belt on.

“They also stopped drivers on hand-held phones. A high percentage of collisions on our roads are caused by people on phones and there is no excuse for it. Nothing can be that important that you would risk your life, and the lives of fellow road users, to pick up a call. It is unbelievable.””

The PCC’s Police and Crime plan highlighted the importance of making Suffolk a safer place in which to live, work, travel and invest. Tim explains, “Any hold-up on the A14 has a huge impact on the Suffolk economy, both from a point of view of local companies not being able to carry out their business and also from a reputational perspective for visitors. We want to encourage visitors to come to Suffolk and for them to be able to move freely across this wonderful county and enjoy the experience; regular hold-ups on the A14 caused by dangerous driving can greatly damage the county’s status as a wonderful tourist destination.

“A collision on a major road can cost in so many ways. There is an obvious cost to the victims and their families; for anyone caught up in the congestion, there is a cost in time and lost business and there is also a significant impact on emergency services. This culminates in a significant cost to the tax-payer, which for a fatal collision can be anything up to £1.5m.”

“We need everyone to drive safely, whether it is in an HGV, a family saloon or on a motorbike. Driving whilst on a mobile phone or trying to read maps will not be tolerated in this county so I fully support the valuable work being carried out by our traffic officers to stop this dangerous behaviour.

The operation in Suffolk involved an unmarked lorry patrolling the A14, with a team of roads policing officers accompanying them to stop any offenders.

The aim of the operation was to detect a range of offences, particularly those that distract drivers such as using a hand held mobile phone, watching TV/DVD/laptop, eating, drinking, steering with knees and reading a map/book/newspaper whilst driving.

Officers also focused on speeding offences, as the operation coincides with the European (TISPOL) seatbelt campaign.