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Last month the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing Unit participated in the European Seat Belt Campaign by taking to the roads in a dedicated effort to deal with drivers not wearing seatbelts and/or texting while driving. Much to their surprise, they issued citations to more than 200 drivers. Unfortunately, most of those cited were HGV drivers.

You can bet that one of the results of the operation will be an increased emphasis on safety among those undergoing HGV training in Suffolk. A fixed penalty of £60 and three points added to a licence is standard for violations like not wearing a seatbelt, texting or otherwise using a mobile phone, or eating and drinking while driving. The law does allow some offenders to choose to take a driver awareness course in exchange for dismissing the fine and points.

According to reports, officers handed out some £12,000 worth of fixed penalties during the weeklong operation. Of the drivers cited, approximately 128 were caught not wearing seat belts; an additional 35 were using their mobile phones behind the wheel.

Safety Always an Issue

For HGV drivers the results of the operation in Suffolk should be viewed as more than just a minor inconvenience. Safety is always a priority on UK roads, but it should be the top priority for HGV drivers because of the size and weight of their vehicles. Drivers who take their safety responsibilities too lightly pose a hazard to other drivers, cyclists, and themselves.

In order to mitigate some of the natural dangers a heavy goods vehicle presents, HGV training in Suffolk and other parts of the UK includes a heavy emphasis on safety. However, even before practical training can begin a driver must pass a theory test, which includes questions regarding driver and vehicle safety. We make the point say this: HGV drivers who are cited for mobile phone use and other violations can hardly claim ignorance.

Any driver that was caught by police engaging in unsafe behaviour is doing so willingly and with full knowledge of what he or she is doing. It’s unfortunate that police identified so many violators during a single week and in such a confined geographic area. Hopefully the message will go out loud and clear to all HGV drivers across the country.

Not a Reflection of the Entire Industry

Despite the operation in Suffolk last month, it’s important to note that the 200 drivers cited do not represent the entire professional driving industry. The countless numbers of dedicated HGV drivers who make it a point to drive safely and responsibly are a credit to the profession.

It is also important to note a current shortage of professional drivers means individuals with current and valid HGV licenses are in high demand. Schools are continually offering HGV training in order to help as many as possible get started on a new career of driving. Whether it’s HGV training in Suffolk or another part of the UK, there is a training centre close by.

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