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New operation launched to target inconsiderate drivers

Police in Essex have launched a new road safety operation to curb the menace of inconsiderate drivers and motorcyclists.

Operation Safeway will target bullying tailgaters who drive too close, such as the driver shown in the video clip below, impatient drivers who undertake, those who overtake on roundabouts and others whose behaviour put innocent lives at risk.

The operation is being carried out in response to growing public concern about poor driving standards that have led to fears for the safety of all road users.

Police will be using cars and motorbikes fitted with video cameras to make sure that offenders are dealt with quickly and efficiently without officers spending time in court.

Drivers who commit more serious offences will be prosecuted for careless driving but the majority are more likely to be sent on an educational driving course in an effort to improve overall rider and driver behaviour.

The footage above was recorded from an unmarked police car travelling at 70mph in a line of traffic in the outside lane on the M25 near Epping. The police car was tailgated by a van whose driver flashed his lights and took both hands off the wheel at the same time to make gestures at the officer driving the car. At one point the van was estimated to be less than 1ft from the rear of the police car. The van driver was later stopped and given a fixed penalty notice.

Sgt Simon Willsher of the Essex Police Casualty Reduction Unit said: "Many drivers do not realise that they can be prosecuted for inconsiderate driving when it also careless driving. For example, if someone is tailgating because they aren’t paying attention and don’t think about stopping distances they can go on a National Driver Alertness Course without going through court or having penalty points on their driving licences.

"If, on the other hand, they are tailgating because they are impatient and trying to bully people out of the way they can be prosecuted for careless driving.

"We will be looking at drivers whose driving is not up the standard expected of a competent full licence holder. This could include impatience at junctions, undertaking and any other situation where a driver or rider may be inconvenienced or placed at risk by the behaviour of another driver.

"By using cars and motorbikes with video recording equipment we can speed up the court process and it may not be necessary for officers to go to court for cases that are contested.

"We anticipate that the majority of offences discovered will be dealt with by sending drivers on educational courses where they will be shown video evidence of how inconsiderate driving can cause crashes and put lives at risk. We want to change driver behaviour for the better rather than fine them or give them penalty points on their licences.”

Essex Police's Casualty Reduction Manager Adam Pipe said: "Police and Essex County Council’s Casualty Reduction Board are receiving increasing numbers of complaints and concerns in relation to poor driving behaviour.

"Poor driving behaviour features as a factor within many road traffic collisions which all too often lead to fatal or serious injuries. These behaviours can also lead to minor collisions that can serious delays and disruption to busy main routes such as the A12, A13 and M25 and M11.

"We have always taken action against inconsiderate drivers, however we recognise increasing opportunities to refer offenders on to educational courses rather than prosecution through the courts in an effort to improve rider and driver behaviour.”

Operation Safeway will run alongside various other road safety operations and the successful No Excuses campaign currently being carried out by Essex Police and Essex County Council.


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