Using your phone when you’re driving isn’t just illegal, it’s also very dangerous to yourself and others. Though most drivers already know this, many still can’t refrain from stealing a glance – or more – at their phone screen while at the wheel.
It’s illegal to use your phone even when you’re stuck in traffic, regardless of whether you’re just checking your email, reading a quick text or using it to play music. Similarly, you can’t use it when you’re at the drive through or otherwise stationary on the public road, unless you’re engine is off and you’re parked on the side of the road.
That said, the West Midlands Police is out to catch culprits in the act and it’s doing so under the name Operation Top Deck. The entire plan is to have plainclothes officers riding the bus on the top deck, looking in on drivers in their cars – and catching those who use their mobile phones on camera.
The operation is already showing excellent results: on a single day, about 45 drivers were caught using their phones and duly reprimanded. They’re liable for fines and penalty points on their license, in case they’re first-time offenders. If they’re repeat offenders, they may even be issued a driving ban, as the BBC News video report at the bottom of the page shows.
The advantage of using a double-decker for cops to ride on is that they’re higher up than they would be in their patrol cars, PC Mark Hodson explains.
“Most of the offending is done in their lap, so unless we have a vantage point we can't actually see if they're committing the offense or not because we actually have to see the phone,” he says. “And so, this gives us the ideal position to that from and not only that but we can train up all our neighborhood policing PCSOs and PCs to do exactly the same when they go on normal bus journeys in their own communities.”
The buses are “borrowed” from National Express and don’t stand out through special markings: they look like regular passenger buses.