Police using double-decker buses to catch motorists who text

Published 27 September 2018

Police are using double decker buses to catch motorists who use their mobile phone at the wheel.

Plain clothes officers from West Midlands Police are able to record offenders and then instruct colleagues on motorbikes to pull over drivers. The motorists are then diverted to a designated location and shown the recording of them on their phone. Within a few hours of Operation Top Deck's launch, 45 drivers were caught using their phone while driving.

On the first day of the initiative, a woman was caught eating a bowl of cereal while driving, she was prosecuted for driving without due care and attention. A man was also caught using his phone while on route to a speed awareness course.

Those caught breaking the law received a £200 fine and six penalty points. Drivers who have been driving for less than two years, and can only receive six points rather than 12, will automatically lose their licence after a first offence.

They will then have to reapply for a provisional licence and retake their driving test. Some cases may also go to court, where there is a maximum fine of £1000. Bus or HGV drivers face a maximum fine of £2500.

>> Just a third of drivers aware of mobile phone laws

The operation follows a similar scheme where police officers catch drivers using their mobile phones by watching them from an unmarked lorry. The scheme, Operation Tramline, was used by South Wales Police in April 2018.

During that week it was in operation 120 vehicles were stopped. 84 traffic offences were reported, with 23 prohibition notices and 15 fixed penalty notices issued. There were also 14 cautions, with £2760 in fines raised.

South Wales Police said they will be running the operation again over the next two months to catch drivers before Christmas.

It has been illegal to use a mobile phone, or similar device, while the engine of a vehicle is running since December 2003. This includes when stopped at a red light or queuing in traffic.

If your phone is in a cradle then you may press a single button to answer a call, but pressing multiple buttons - like a text - is illegal. It is, however, legal to make and receive calls using a hands-free system.

Many new cars come with Bluetooth systems fitted as standard, which allows the driver to use their phone legally. Although, even when using a legal hands-free kit, drivers can still be charged with careless driving, dangerous driving or driving without due care and attention if the police believe that it affected their standard of driving.


D J Fraser    on 28 September 2018

I have to agree with the way the police are going about getting drivers to obey the law, it’s been on the statute books since 2006 for goodness sake.
An intensive campaign should be re-run on all media again, similar to “clunk click for every trip”, that went on ad nuaseam, but it did the trick.
Some more of those dramatic videos showing the effects of not being attentive to your driving.
Never mind the poor sensitive darlings of the PC brigade, who got so upset because there was blood and realism in them, if this is what grabs the population’s attention then sobeit, it can only be a good thing.

FrankS    on 29 September 2018

If using a phone really is a serious offence and a cause of accidents (and I do believe it is) then given the cost and trauma of clearing up such accidents (time, emergency services who could be doing something more useful, NHS resources etc.) one solution would be simple - confiscate and crush (or resell) the vehicle that the offender is driving at the time. This is in addition to the existing (or enhanced) personal cost of points / fine / imprisonment.

This solution would then impact ALL the owners (rather than just users) of vehicles including company vehicles in terms of losing their investment which MIGHT make the company write into their terms of employment that it is against company rules (leading to dismissal) to use a mobile phone whilst 'at work' in a company vehicle (or even not at work when on personal leisure time).

I cannot see ANY reason to allow mobile phone use if it is genuinely dangerous - especially as it is an absolutely deliberate act. It is NOT accidental when choosing to use a mobile phone not in accordance with the current laws. Having said that, programming a SatNav at 70 mph in the outside lane of a motorway does seem to be just as dangerous and punishment deserving!

YES this is harsh and perhaps unreasonable - but would it seem quite as unreasonable if an offender had mown down your wife / husband / son / daughter whilst they were using a mobile phone when driving along?

soldierboy000    on 1 October 2018

If ever I need to reprogram my satnav which i do quite regularly cause I can't work out how to do via journeys I program the different way points before I start my journey but still stop to change to the next way point each time. A little inconvenient but maybe a life saver for somebody.

jchinuk    on 1 October 2018

While I agree, I think crushing their phone would upset them more!


Adam Hardy    on 1 October 2018

I don't disagree, but there's a world of difference between picking up and checking your phone or switching apps when stopped in a queue (or parked, albeit with keys in the ignition), versus doing it while moving. I am not sure whether traffic police differentiate though.

Plodding Along    on 1 October 2018

I agree. It is one thing to be texting or talking on your phone (without using hands free) while driving and this should be absolutely clamped down on with minimum fines of £1000 and a 12 month ban.

However, checking your phone while stationary at lights or in a motorway queue is hardly likely to result in an accident if the person is sensible and mindful of the fact that he/she may have to put their phone down at any moment. Common sense should always be used. If I am parked up with my engine running on a cold day, for example, and am using my phone how can that be illegal? That just takes it too far!

HondaMan983    on 1 October 2018

Because the law says it is. If you do not agree, get the law amended.

bola    on 8 October 2018

maybe crushing the car is a bit extreme....the call could have been an emergency ..but then why not pull over and take the call...I would suggest that the police crush the mobile phone or confiscate it and cant be returned for , say , one month. ..same as they do with your car...some smart phone users would go bananas if they didn't have their smartphone 24/7!

Linclad    on 1 October 2018

Absolutely right. Simply no excuse.

Linclad    on 1 October 2018

Absolutely right. No excuse.

Birtley Bob    on 1 October 2018

Why aren’t new vehicles fitted with a Faraday cage so a mobile phone cannot work in the vehicle?

jchinuk    on 1 October 2018

I prefer my cars to have windows?

The Citroën fan    on 1 October 2018

Why aren’t new vehicles fitted with a Faraday cage so a mobile phone cannot work in the vehicle?

In reply to the person who wonders why faraday cages aren't fitted to new cars, I should have thought the answers are blindingly obvious:

1. It's not illegal to use the phone hands-free.

2. There may be a genuine emergency to report.

3. There's no reason why a passenger should not use a phone

4. The vehicle could be parked; it's still more convenient to use a mobile and call-boxes are now an endangered species.

Contax139    on 1 October 2018

Don't need a Faraday cage that would stop a passenger front or rear using a phone, drivers should just put their mobile in glove box or better still in boot if you can't trust yourself.

bola    on 8 October 2018

why not a cage for the stupid driver ...LOL

NEIL SCARLETT    on 1 October 2018

That Melvin Hayes is a menace.

Roy H.    on 1 October 2018

I had a "hands free" set but scrapped it after only getting one call, at any speed you need all your wits about you. But even today I saw a young woman obviously texting with two kiddies in the back!

Nicholas Dixey    on 8 October 2018

She was probably texting the kids.

Don1988    on 1 October 2018

'It has been illegal to use a mobile phone, or similar device, while the engine of a vehicle is running since December 2003. This includes when stopped at a red light or queuing in traffic'

This rule needs a reappraisal because many cars now are stop start when you're stationary.

I do agree with what the police are doing because I still see so many drivers using their mobiles or distracted by something else.

Just over a week ago I saw a woman who was eating and had something perched on her lap because she kept on looking down.

I looked over at her because she was doing 60 in lane 3 of the M25 when the inner two lanes were free meaning I had to move out to lane 4 to overtake.

Ubermik    on 1 October 2018

When the law came in I decided to never again use my mobile phone to make a call whilst driving

It has saved me money on fines I haven't got, but its also cost me a small fortune spent on ridiculously long telephone extension cables so I can use my home phone to make calls whilst driving instead so I can remain legal :)

soldierboy000    on 1 October 2018

Uncalled for stupidity on a subject matter so serious, what are you going to do when you leave infants school.

HondaMan983    on 1 October 2018

You are STILL breaking the law!

John McLean    on 1 October 2018

There are always those who feel it's their right. The penalty should be raised to 9 points and a £500 fine, Even using a hands free telephone is a problem and should also be banned ............ this is considered multitasking I.M.O., it's not possible to give full attention to driving. Think of trying to watch television and using a mobile phone at the same time, one has to suffer!

John McLean

POB123    on 1 October 2018

Rather than confiscating vehicles, why not just confiscate the phone and charge a large fee for its return?

DrTeeth    on 1 October 2018

When I am stopped in traffic and wish to use my phone, I turn off the engine and hold the key in my hand so I can prove it to any passing plod.
The number of people that are blatantly using phones or looking down when driving is staggering.

Legion Rider    on 1 October 2018

Whilst I don't have any sympathy with people who use mobile phones when driving, a little common sense should be applied. If you are stuck in Stationary traffic with the handbrake applied, how can it possibly be dangerous to other road users? Yes it is an offence. The law sometimes is an ass.

Tony Brett    on 1 October 2018

Driving while distracted using a handheld phone is at least as dangerous as driving while just a little over the alcohol limit. The latter attracts an automatic one year driving ban with magistrates having no discretion over it. Why doesn't using a handheld phone while driving attract the same penalty?

Failander    on 1 October 2018

£200, what a pathetic fine. It should be £1000 for the first offence an then higher amounts for each one after that. If this doesn't work then a prison sentence should be imposed.

Daniel Mc Veigh    on 1 October 2018

I totally agree with the previous comment why can’t manufacturers build cars with some sort of Faraday device that makes it impossible to use a mobile phone whilst driving.
I am the wrong side of 40 and wonder how I ever managed before mobile phones became a part of the current generations anatomy.
I live midway between 2 schools , 1 infants, 1 junior,and the number of parents mainly mums,using phones whilst delivering their kids in cars is truly terrifying.
I dread the day ,which will come , when there is an accident.

Captain-Cretin    on 1 October 2018

I saw a woman on Saturday completely block a junction, both the side road and 1/2 the main road; while she stopped and used her phone (texting), after doing a U turn..
On the average rush hour drive along the local 1 mile bypass, you can easily see an average of 9 people on their phones, some texting by the way they are looking down into their laps more than what is happening ahead of them.
Plus more looking down as soon as the traffic stops, so driving with their phone in their lap.

It is totally out of control.

Geoff Frost    on 1 October 2018

Anything the police do to catch mobile phone users etc is fine by me. Mobile phones and their use when driving is the scourge of motoring today and highly dangerous.

Sir Kevin Parr, Baronet    on 1 October 2018

Indeed it is upsetting to have to tell and adult not to risk life on roads.Mobile phones take your mind off driving safe. That means full alertness behind the wheel. You only have to see how people manage supermarket trolleys to know over 70% cant even drive.Mind you police clubs and places they say they can protect for a few pints for the ;lads make police a danger on the road too. I know it happens as I was victim for reporting a team of police drinking four pints of beer each on duty in my club. Followed me about for months waiting to charge me on anything. It is a jungle out there so switch off that phone before starting up the engine. Never give police a chance to nail you

jchinuk    on 1 October 2018

I am now retired, but I know that managers who did not take calls from work while driving were admonished for failing to do so.
I realise a lot of calls from drivers are not work related, but I feel employers should be held accountable if they call employees while they know the employee is likely to be driving.

I am of an age I am just baffled about what these people are finding to talk about....

   on 1 October 2018

White van man is a persistent offender. Probably see half a dozen a day using a phone while driving. It’s become as ubiquitous as a copy of the Sun on the parcel shelf.

Karen's kars    on 1 October 2018

proves that taking a call even on hands free is distracting. I feel that taking a calls at all is a danger to life and should be banned full stop.
I know many will disagree but that facts speak for themselves.

I certainly think that any motorist caught not using a phone legally should have it confiscated, it is after all proof of the offence.

cjhswindon    on 1 October 2018

I agree with those that think this should be prosecuted more often and even private car-cam footage used to enable this, by own volition only though.
It would also be nice to see a very big policemans helmet on the bus.

Neil Sturgeon    on 1 October 2018

Fines should apply to cyclists as well using mobiles whilst cycling. I be seen it in Cambridge hundreds of times, using phone then wobbling/pulling out in front of vehicles. I know someone who had this happen to him, he got done for dangerous driving, points and fine. Even thought police saw dashcam footage.

I was behind a idiot the other day in ford cab with trailer taking selfies of himself driving!

Buddyduke    on 1 October 2018

Should find them and ban them off the roads for min 12 months just like drink driving,. Also I was wondering using the phone if your car is parked up with the engine running but it is a automatic and in park can the police still fine you?, and one last bit what happens if you are disabled and need the car running for the heat.

Contax139    on 1 October 2018

Yes they can as you are in control of the car with the keys in. Being disabled and needing the hearter on is a lame excuse, turn off, remove keys, make the call, turn off phone and put away the restart car to use heater, if that affects a driver too much are they fit to drive?

Contax139    on 1 October 2018

I have to support everything the police do to catch those using mobile phones when in control of a car, First time should be 9 points, £1,000 fine and phone confiscated. Any further offence should be £5,000 fine, 3 year ban, confiscate phone and confiscate the vehicle, it's the only way to make some drivers understand.
There are so many fatal collisions through mobile use in the press, one 17 year old girl drove on wrong side of road with car full of mates using mobile crashed head on killed an old man, today in press 17 year old girl crashed head on with a truck mobile used she was killed. There are too many taking the risk so they must be punished hard enough to stop them then the police can revert to dealing with other crimes.

A.Ward    on 3 October 2018

Why ban just mobile phones. Radios are just as bad. It is impossible to concentrate on driving while listening to the radio as well. I was a passenger in one car doing 70 down the motorway and he started fiddling with a cd player. I have never been in a car with him again> They should be banned for life for endangering other peoples lifes

carl233    on 4 October 2018

The way that Britain is going down the toilet for freedom, what next cameras by law in every vehicle linked to a PC plod control centre where every aspect can be reviewed by the poorly qualified Police Force?

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