Police operation catches drivers on mobile phones and not wearing seat belts in Norfolk and Suffolk

Police Officers head out onto the A11 as part of Operation Wyken. Photograph Simon Parker Police Officers head out onto the A11 as part of Operation Wyken. Photograph Simon Parker

Friday, March 15, 2013
3:00 PM

People using mobile phones while driving or not wearing a seat belt were in for a shock this week – thanks to unmarked police vehicles being used for a casualty reduction operation.

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Police Officers head out onto the A11 as part of Operation Wyken. Photograph Simon ParkerPolice Officers head out onto the A11 as part of Operation Wyken. Photograph Simon Parker

The Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit caught more than 200 offenders, mainly HGV drivers, between Monday and Friday as part of Operation Wyken – which coincided with this week’s European Seat Belt Campaign.

The region’s major roads, including the A47 and A11, have been targeted by the officers working on Operation Wyken.

This saw officers in an unmarked lorry, with the officer in the passenger seat using a video camera to catch offenders. The officers then used their radios to alert trailing marked and unmarked vehicles who pulled over the offending drivers.

Any drivers using a mobile phone, watching a TV, DVD or laptop screen, eating, drinking, steering with knees or reading a map, book or newspaper could then receive a fixed penalty notice.

Police Officers head out onto the A11 as part of Operation Wyken. Photograph Simon ParkerPolice Officers head out onto the A11 as part of Operation Wyken. Photograph Simon Parker

Of the 200 offences recorded, 128 drivers were not wearing seatbelts, 35 were using a mobile phone while driving, eight drivers were not in proper control of their vehicle and two vehicles were seized for having no insurance.

There were also 26 drivers who had committed various offences and one driver was arrested for having a fraudulent driving licence.

Around £12,000 in fines was handed out through fixed penalty notices and roads police inspector Chris Brooks said similar operations will continue in future.

“Seat belts and air bags work together to reduce injuries at times of collision, so the message is please wear your seat belt,” Insp Brooks said.

Police Officers head out onto the A11 as part of Operation Wyken. Roads Policing Inspector for Norfolk and Suffolk Chris Brooks. Photograph Simon ParkerPolice Officers head out onto the A11 as part of Operation Wyken. Roads Policing Inspector for Norfolk and Suffolk Chris Brooks. Photograph Simon Parker

“And the same with mobile phones. If you put it in your pocket or your jacket then you can’t be tempted to use it.”

Insp Brooks said many drivers were also offered the option of paying to sit a driving awareness course.

Insp Brooks said many drivers were offered the option of taking a driving awareness course, similar to when some people caught speeding for the first time are.

A fine of £60 and three penalty points on a driver’s licence is possible, but these can be waived if the driver pays to go on the course, money from which is then used to fund police schemes like Operation Wyken.

He added that young drivers sending text messages on mobile phones were the main offenders.

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