Drivers are being reminded not to use a mobile phone or device while behind the wheel after police checks revealed it is one of the most common offences being committed on the road.

Vehicles were stopped for offences as part of Operation Tramline, a week-long operation by officers from Surrey Police and Sussex Police’s Commercial Vehicle Unit (CVU) and Roads Policing Unit (RPU)

The team patrolled the M25, M23, A23 and A27 during the week of action earlier this month.

Working in partnership with National Highways, officers used an unmarked lorry in order to check all vehicles from Heavy Goods Vehicles to cars and everything in between.

A large percentage of drivers were stopped because they were seen using their mobile phone while driving, and a number of others for not having proper control of their vehicle.

Using a mobile phone and being distracted behind the wheel is one of the “fatal five” offences which lead to people being killed or seriously injured on our roads.

For example, lorry driver Derek Holland is currently serving a prison sentence after footage inside his vehicle showed him failing to pay attention by using a mobile phone while driving.

He collided into the back of a broken down prison van on the A27, causing three people to be seriously injured. 

Other offences in the “fatal five” include driving at an inappropriate speed, drink and/or drug-driving, not wearing a seatbelt in a vehicle, and careless or inconsiderate driving.

CVU and RPU officers were also checking to ensure drivers wore their seatbelts, were keeping to their driving hours, had made sure that the load being carried had been properly secured, and that the vehicles were not carrying too much weight.

Of the 99 vehicles stopped for offences, 19 were for using a mobile phone at the wheel and 25 were for not being in proper control of the vehicle, often due to mobile phone use.

Sergeant Huw Watts said: “It is disappointing that such a large number of the offences were for people driving while using a mobile phone.

“This Operation has run five times this year and Sussex and Surrey Forces were the second most productive Forces in the country for vehicle checks.

“It shows that people are continuing to flout the law and put themselves and others in danger. We will continue to enforce the law and to help reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured by an irresponsible minority of road users.”

Colin Evans, Regional Safety Coordinator in the South East, at National Highways, said: “Hundreds of thousands of drivers use our roads every day and the vast majority are sensible behind the wheel but some are putting themselves and others at risk.

“We introduced the three HGV supercabs recently to help keep the roads safe and tackle dangerous driving by people who have either got into bad habits or are simply ignoring the law.

“The cabs have helped to identify thousands of unsafe drivers over the past year, and we hope they will encourage everyone to think about what more they could do to improve how they drive.”

Sergeant Watts said two vehicles were seized as a result of officers’ patrols, while 18 drivers faced either a fixed penalty notice, a graduated fixed penalty notice, or a roadside deposit.

Officers completed 55 Traffic Offence Reports where drivers could face points being endorsed on their licence, while three drivers will face a court summons for their offences.

Meanwhile 30 drivers were given words of advice by officers.