Tough new powers are being called for by councils to tackle lorry drivers who ignore weight restrictions, bringing bedlam to the nation’s villages.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents almost 400 councils in England and Wales, wants local authorities to be able to fine ‘heavy haulage road rogues’ to bring peace and tranquillity back to some blighted communities. The money collected from the fines could be used towards tackling the nation’s £12 billion pothole backlog.
Lorries of a certain weight or width are banned from many minor roads but the police do not always have the resources to enforce the restrictions. The Government has handed powers under the Traffic Management Act (2004) to local authorities in Wales, and London (under different legislation), to take action if lorry drivers break the law. The LGA said councils across the country must also be given the ability to enforce weight and width restrictions in their communities.
The LGA wants the new Government to enable councils to take enforcement action where necessary. Councils up and down the country are already working with communities to tackle the issue by organising lorry watch schemes. They are also working with freight and haulage companies to ensure that lorries use the most suitable routes and roads.
The call comes as research shows accidents involving lorries are an increasing concern. They are now involved in more than half of fatal motorway accidents and one-in-five fatal accidents on A-roads.
Villages and rural communities across the country have been blighted by a recent spate of lorry smashes.
Four police officers and a translator were needed to help a driver who brought mayhem to the tranquil village of Iwade, Kent, after wrapping his lorry around a tree. A 40-foot articulated beer truck operator cannoned off houses in the picturesque Devon village of Uffculme in the early hours of the morning, after apparently misjudging a narrow street, bringing power lines crashing down. Meanwhile, a driver was led astray by his satnav and ended up stuck in a narrow country lane in Ivybridge, near Plymouth, Devon. He had to sleep in his cab for three nights before a tractor was able to pull him out.
LGA Transport spokesman Cllr Peter Box said: “There has been a spate of accidents involving lorry drivers driving irresponsibly and bringing bedlam to small rural communities – and action must be taken immediately to curb this.
“Councils are doing everything they can to help their residents, working with communities by organising lorry watch schemes. But they are trying to take action with one hand tied behind their back and urgently need tougher powers. If a community is being plagued by problems at an accident blackspot, councils should be able to respond to communities’ concerns by issuing fines to act as a deterrent.
“We would stress that most lorry drivers are reputable and drive responsibly. These powers would be targeted at the minority who do not follow the law. This is also about protecting the drivers’ safety as well as the safety of residents and other road users.”
- LGA: 100 days publication
Our roads are crumbling whilst at the same time, more people than ever before are using them. The country currently has a £12 billion backlog of repairs and one in five roads is classed as being in poor condition. (p14)
- The Traffic Management Act 2004 (part 6), provides for councils to be given the powers to enforceweight limits and width restrictions, but central Government has not yet passed the necessary secondary legislation to bring it into force in England. The Welsh Government has done so and councils (and Transport for London) in the capital have powers.
- For example, in Leicestershire, weight limits are used to prevent lorries with a gross plated weight of more than 7.5 tonnes from using roads that are unsuitable.
- Lorries are involved in an increasing percentage of fatal traffic accidents on Britain’s roads. New analysis has shown that last year HGVs were implicated in more than half of fatal motorway accidents and one-in-five fatal accidents on A-roads, continuing negative trends over the last five years.http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/media/21-10-2013-lorry-fatalities-research
- The Government has warned the issue of unsuitably large vehicles travelling on rural roads was becoming a “serious problem”. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/11669523/Lorry-drivers-should-use-maps-not-satnav-Chris-Grayling-says.html
CASE STUDIES – CRASHES
How many people does it take to get a lorry out of a tight spot? Four police officers and a translator. http://www.kentonline.co.uk/sittingbourne/news/lorry-problems-plague-village-a57901/
Houses were damaged and electricity cables brought down when a truck operated by a driver crashed in Uffculme. http://www.torquayheraldexpress.co.uk/Lorry-damages-homes-electricity-cables-Devon/story-22075254-detail/story.html
A lorry driver who was led off course by his sat nav got his HGV so tightly wedged in a narrow country lane he had to spend three nights sleeping in his cab before being rescued.
Villagers were fuming last night after two lorry drivers crashed the same truck at the same spot on the same road – almost a year apart.