Police spent a day targeting motorists who break the speed limit, use mobile phones at the wheel, fail to wear a seatbelt, or drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The so-called ‘Fatal 4’ offences are said to be the the main causes of serious injuries and deaths on the county’s roads.
Plain-clothes officers acted as spotters in Oakham’s High Street, radioing through information to uniformed colleagues further down the road who directed the motorists to park up in the Burley Road car park.
There they were quizzed by police about why they were breaking the law and either offered the chance to complete an educational course, or issued with a fine. Vehicles and paperwork were also checked.
Pc Tony Bunker, who was leading the operation on Wednesday, said that what might seem like trivial offences can have extremely serious consequences.
He said: “My colleagues and I know, from personal experience having attended many road traffic collisions, that the Fatal 4 offences can and do cause deaths on our roads.
“Motorists might think that having a couple of drinks, taking a quick call, not wearing a seatbelt or driving a bit faster than the speed limit is nothing serious. But it is a fact that these factors play a role in the majority of serious collisions we have to deal with.
“We try and educate people, through TV and radio commercials and poster campaigns, but that doesn’t stop everyone, so we also have to carry out enforcement operations as we have done in Oakham.”
During the operation, 18 motorists were stopped– 17 for not wearing a seatbelt and one for using a phone while driving. One driver was also reported for having a defective exhaust and tyres.
Motorists caught using a mobile phone while driving currently face a fine of £100 and three penalty points – although the Government has announced plans to double this. Driving without a seatbelt is also punishable by a £100 fine, but no points.
The Mercury spoke to some of the motorists who were stopped by police. A van driver, who was caught driving without a seatbelt, said: “I was just about to do a delivery and may have popped the belt off a bit early when I was spotted. I did it, so will have to deal with the consequences.”
A car driver who was stopped for the same offence, said: “There must be 10 police officers here, picking on motorists who are a soft target. It’s about meeting targets and ticking boxes, not catching real criminals. I’m going to argue it in court.”
But PC Bunker was quick to point out the flaw in the motorist’s argument, adding: “This is not about making money – many of those stopped won’t receive a fine – it’s about saving lives and enforcing the law.
“We don’t want people to be killed on our roads. If you don’t want to get stopped, don’t break the law – it’s that simple.”