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UK police catching motorists on phones by sitting atop double-decker buses

Clever traffic crackdown uses Britain's iconic buses as mobile surveillance perches.

Plymouth Citybus
Plymouth Citybus yard.
Plymouth Citybus

UK police are cracking down on law-flouting motorists from iconic heights. Radio-equipped officers are setting up shop on the upper floors of double-decker buses to peer into the cars of passing motorists to see if they're using their handheld phones or failing to wear seatbelts.

The buses' superior vantage points and mobile nature are proving to be particularly effective tools. A weekend operation in Plymouth, Devon, caught over 130 motorists, including 39 mobile phone users and 36 unbelted drivers. Other motorists were arrested for speeding and impaired driving.

According to a Devon & Cornwall Police statement, the mobile surveillance perches were "kindly supplied" by Plymouth Citybus, with the spotters radioing marked and unmarked patrol vehicles to then pull over the offending motorists. According to police constable Andy Llewellyn, "This is a great example of how we can maximize policing resources by working closely with partner organizations in the community. We are extremely grateful to Plymouth Citybus for providing us with a bus and driver for this operation."


UK police are using the country's iconic buses to catch scofflaw motorists by surprise.

Plymouth Citybus

Using a handheld phone while driving in the area has been illegal since 2003, but fines have doubled since March 1 to a heady £200 -- over $250 US -- plus six points.

The novel double-decker campaign is part of a crackdown aimed at curbing what UK police refer to as the "fatal five" of driving offenses: driving while using a mobile device, speeding, impaired driving, careless driving and failing to wear seatbelts.