Police take to the top of a BUS to spot drivers using mobile phones

Top deck detectives! Police take to top of undercover BUS to spot drivers using mobile phones then call in unmarked police cars with automatic numberplate recognition systems to dish out £200 fines and penalty points

  • Officers from Dorset Police hopped on a double-decker to peer down into cars driving around Bournemouth
  • After spying an offender, officers radioed colleagues parked up in unmarked cars and they pulled them over
  • Officers caught 10 motorists in the space of an hour during the sting, which they named ‘Operation Decker’
  • Sting operation comes shortly before law changes to clamp down on drivers who use phones at the wheel

Snooping traffic cops have taken to sitting on buses in a bid to spy on badly-behaved drivers using their mobile phones at the wheel. 

Officers from Dorset Police hopped on a loaned-out double-decker to peer down into the vehicles of motorists driving around the seaside town of Bournemouth. 

After spying someone breaking the law, they radioed colleagues parked up ahead in unmarked cars and they pulled the offenders over.

Police caught 10 motorists in the space of an hour during the sting, involving almost a dozen officers and named ‘Operation Decker’.

Among those caught included one man who had both hands off the steering wheel while using his mobile phone.

One woman stopped for using her phone had her car seized because she had no insurance, while another driver had no licence.

Sergeant Lee Savage, of Dorset Police’s No Excuse team, said the operation had been a ‘huge success’.

Snooping traffic cops have taken to sitting on buses in a bid to spy on badly-behaved drivers using their mobile phones at the wheel

Officers from Dorset Police hopped on a double-decker to peer down into cars driving around the seaside town of Bournemouth

When they spied someone breaking the law they radioed colleagues parked up ahead in unmarked cars and they pulled the offenders over

The sting operation comes shortly before the law changes later this year to clamp down on drivers who use their phones behind the wheel

He said: ‘The buses provide a great vantage point for officers to spot road traffic offences with particular attention paid today to mobile phones.

‘One driver had both hands off the wheel and his phone in front of him, using both thumbs on the touchscreen while the vehicle was in motion.

‘It also opened the door for us to tackle other offences. Two vehicles were seized – one because they had no insurance and another because they were driving without a licence.

‘There was a stolen Mini located. It activated the automatic number plate recognition system in one of our vehicles.

‘Hopefully this will send out a very clear message to the public – if you are in a vehicle you need to be focused on driving.

‘You have to look at the bigger picture. You are four times more likely to have an accident if you use your phone. If you are injured, the impact not just on you and your family but on others is massive.’

Officers caught 10 motorists in the space of an hour during the sting. They included one man who had both hands off the steering wheel while using his mobile phone


One woman stopped for using her phone had her car seized because she had no insurance, while another driver had no licence. Sergeant Lee Savage, of Dorset Police’s No Excuse team, said: ‘The initiative was a huge success. We caught 10 people in the first hour.

The operation involved two uniformed officers sat on the top deck of a Yellow Buses double decker and two on the bottom level

The operation involved two uniformed officers sat on the top deck of a Yellow Buses double decker and two on the bottom level.

The bus went on a circular route around Bournemouth catching offenders.

David Sidwick, the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: ‘We are very grateful to Yellow Bus for loaning us one of their buses. It has allowed us to have a higher platform for catching people who use their phones.

‘You would be surprised how many people think its OK to use their phone while driving a car which weighs a tonne.

‘They came from all walks of life. The message today is clear – if you use your phone you don’t just put yourself at risk but you put others at risk.’

The bus went on a circular route around Bournemouth catching offenders. Pictured: Police speaking to a driver to check their insurance details

Officers from Dorset Police pull over a driver for using a mobile phone after they were observed by fellow officers from inside a double decker bus

David Sidwick, the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: ‘We are very grateful to Yellow Bus for loaning us one of their buses. It has allowed us to have a higher platform for catching people who use their phones.

The sting operation comes shortly before the law changes later this year to clamp down on drivers who use their phones behind the wheel.

While the current law makes it illegal to text or make phone calls while driving, it doesn’t stop motorists from touching a hand-held device.

But new legislation due to be brought in later this year will make it illegal to touch a handheld device for any reason such as checking notifications, taking photos or playing music while driving.

The new laws will also apply to people who check their phones while stuck in traffic or at a red light.

Drivers who break the them will be handed a £200 fixed penalty notice plus six points on their licence.

Last month former footballer Frank Lampard had his case of using a phone while driving dropped because it could not be proven that it was turned on at the time.

What are the rules on using a phone or sat nav while driving in the UK?

Under UK rules it is illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving or riding a motorcycle. 

The only time you can use a hand-held phone in a car is if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.

But you can use a hands-free device, so long as it does not block your view of the road and so long as you remain in control of your vehicle.

A hands free device includes a Bluetooth headset or a device controlled by voice command and it must be secured via a dashboard holder, a windscreen mount or be a built-in sat nav device.

Later this year the rules will be tightened to keep up with modern technology – because the law currently states that is it is legal to make calls or send texts.

While drivers still currently face fines for using a device in their hand, the new law will enshrine in law that drivers will also not be allowed to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games on their phones when driving.

The new rules will apply even if you are stopped at traffic lights, queuing in traffic or supervising a learner driver. 

Anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence. 

For those caught within two years of passing their driving test, the penalty is an automatic loss of their licence. 

Particularly egregious cases can end up in court where financial penalties can be as high as £1,000 – or £2,500 for those in larger vehicles such as buses or lorries. 

Those who have a hands-free device but have an obstructed view can still get three penalty points. 

The new laws follow a public consultation that found 81 per cent of respondents supported proposals to strengthen the law and make it easier for culprits to be prosecuted. 

Speaking about the announcement in November, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held. 

‘By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users. 

‘While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning THINK! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.’

No set date has been agreed as to when the new laws will be introduced, but it is understood to be later this year. 

Source: Gov.uk

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