Improving driving standards on main roads in Essex
Police are using an unmarked lorry in a campaign to improve
driving standards on main roads in Essex.
Two officers have been trained to drive the cab section of an
HGV to crack down on truckers and car drivers who are distracted by
using mobile phones or other devices while driving.
The higher seats of a lorry are proving to be ideal vantage
points for looking into the cabs of other trucks or looking down on
car or van drivers.
In two recent incidents a lorry driver was seen typing on the
keyboard section of an iPad resting on his steering wheel while
another trucker was seen writing on an A4 notepad at the wheel.
Both drivers were prosecuted for not having proper control of a
Dozens of other drivers have been stopped for using mobile
phones or not wearing seat belts.
Photo: Pc Winfield returns to the police lorry as a
uniformed officers talks with a driver stopped for using a mobile
phone while driving
The crew of the police HGV also deal with general policing
matters and will assist in major operations such as those against
metal theft and as part of their patrols on the A12 they will be
keeping watch for any suspicious activity near bridges in the
Chelmsford area where objects have been thrown on to vehicles
during previous winter months.
PCs Al Cuthbertson and Gary Winfield, both members of the Essex
Police commercial vehicle unit, have both obtained HGV licences to
drive the police lorry.
Photo: Pc Cuthbertson at the wheel of the police
While one officer drives the other keeps watch from the
passenger seat and uses a radio to pass information to other
officers on motorbike or in cars to stop offending drivers.
The grey Mercedes Actros tractor unit has been owned by Essex
Police for many years and is normally used to haul a large trailer
converted as a mobile control centre used at major incidents or
The lorry has no police markings, but has a distinctive number
plate A12 EPD, originally obtained for its usual role at public
events. PCs Cuthbertson and Winfield do not wear full uniform when
on board and wear fleeces over their usual police issue shirts.
“Although it has been nicknamed the ‘plainclothes lorry’ there
is nothing secret or covert about the truck,” said Adam Pipe, Essex
Police’s casualty reduction manager.
“It is being used for road safety and general policing patrols
and is especially useful for keeping an eye on lorry drivers and
motorists who are not driving safely or are breaking the law by
using phones and other devices or not wearing seat belts.
“It has been a real eye-opener to see the results of the HGV
patrols because police in cars or motorbikes cannot see in the
lofty cabs of lorries. In just two days of operations the HGV has
seen lorries being driven at 50mph or more while the drivers are
“In one case a driver was writing notes on an A4 pad resting on
the steering wheel while negotiating the bends on the A12 at
Ingatestone. If the truck had gone out of control the consequences
could easily have been fatal for the lorry driver and anyone
driving towards him on the other carriageway.
“We are extremely concerned at the way drivers are being
distracted at the wheel, especially with the massive increase in
the use of smart phone and iPads. There have also been reports of
some continental lorry driver watching TV or films while
“We are determined that through patrols with the HGV we can reduce
the dangers of commercial drivers taking liberties and putting
innocent lives at risk.”