A TOP traffic cop has slammed the “gross stupidity” of these motorists caught driving dangerously on some of our busiest roads.

See all our pictures in the gallery

Bournemouth Echo: Image from PictureGalleryModule_ID:3168849

They were snapped travelling northbound on the A338 Wessex Way talking on their mobile phones, reading maps, removing a jacket and even taking both hands off the steering wheel to light a cigarette.

Follow our live blog as we snap drivers on the Wessex Way this morning - we've snapped six people using their mobile phones already.

Our photographer caught countless motorists flouting the law - all in free-flowing traffic - and Inspector John Mallace of Dorset Police's road traffic unit says behaviour like this puts lives at risk.

He said: “As people drive around the county you will see people not paying attention to their driving.

Bournemouth Echo: Image from PictureGalleryModule_ID:3168849

When you are using something that is distracting you from driving like a mobile phone or reading a map or reading directions or taking your jacket off - that puts yourself in significant danger of death or serious injury but also puts the rest of the public in danger as a result of your gross stupidity.”

Insp Mallace was also shocked to see pictures of a young child travelling in an 'L' plated car standing up unrestrained.

The picture was taken at lunchtime at Cemetery junction in Bournemouth.

The officer said: “The law states that a child should be restrained in the rear of the vehicle.

“If it was involved in a crash, the child or person in the back of the vehicle in effect becomes a missile and they would be launched either into the back of the head of the person in front or through the windscreen and generally that would result in fatal injuries.”

He said such a scenario could lead to the driver being charged with death by dangerous driving or death by careless driving.

“We all would naturally love to protect children and that's what the law is designed for,” he said.

Bournemouth Echo: Image from PictureGalleryModule_ID:3168849

“I have been at crashes with kids in a properly-fitted child seat and if it wasn't for that child seat, the child would be dead.”

Insp Mallace said the images showed truckers driving without due care and attention.

“On the whole 99 per cent of lorry drivers are very good and very competent.

“They are in charge of 42 tonnes of vehicle. If you are in charge of such a large vehicle it only takes a momentary glitch and that thing is careering through lines of traffic.”

Speaking about drivers on their mobile phones, Insp Mallace said: “We all know it's a bad thing to do, we all know it's dangerous so why do it?

Bournemouth Echo: Image from PictureGalleryModule_ID:3168849

“It really isn't worth the potential consequences that I and my colleagues deal with on a daily basis.”

He said the No Excuse campaign, which involves a combination of enforcement and education, has been successful in reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on Dorset's roads.

“We have statistically some of the most dangerous roads in the country because we have a windy road network which people don't drive appropriately on.”

He said the majority of fatal accidents in Dorset are due to driver error.

Bournemouth council's cabinet member for transportation Michael Filer was “absolutely horrified” by the images.

He said: “I hope the photographs can be handed over to the police because these drivers are not just jeopardising themselves, they are putting other motorists at risk. Their senseless actions could be lethal and a law-abiding motorist could lose their life because of their stupidity.”

Dorset Police have requested a copy of our photographs and will be writing to the offending drivers and, where necessary, their employers.

Kathy Tilbury Managing Director of Bournemouth-based Excelsior Coaches, said: “As a  business our drivers go through very vigorous on-going assessments and training, and we have impeccable safety record our fleet has safety equipment monitoring the drivers performance every time they take to the wheel.

“We also work very closely with a charity that prompts safe driving to under-17 drivers training them in road safety.

“As a result of this allegation we have launched an investigation into this picture shown in the Echo on Friday, April 12, and will take any necessary action that we deem appropriate.”

What we saw

The antics our photographer witnessed on the A338 Wessex Way in just 1hr and 45min:

  • An Excelsior coach driver cleaning his glasses on the dual carriageway. Click to see
  • A Toyota driver taking both hands off the wheel to light her cigarette Click to see
  • A white van driver reading his paperwork in the outside lane Click to see
  • A recovery truck driver on the phone while behind the wheel 
  • A Ford Focus driver with two dogs and a child on the passenger seat Click to see
  • Numerous van and car drivers using their mobile phones
  • On the fast lane of the Wessex Way a woman was spotted removing her jacket after overtaking in her grey Land Rover Click to see
  • An Iceland delivery man caught holding a disposable cup Click to see
  • Motorist reading as he drove his white Skoda Click to see
  • A white van driver eating crisps with both hands off the wheel Click to see
  • Scania lorry driver on the phone behind the wheel Click to see
  • Truck driver studying a map Click to see