UK

Oversize lorries causing 'bedlam' on rural roads

A road sign showing a lorry weight restriction

Lorry drivers ignoring weight restrictions on minor roads are causing "bedlam" in rural communities, the Local Government Association has said.

The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, said there had been a "spate of accidents" recently.

And it said councils "urgently need tougher powers" to tackle the issue.

But the government said police already had the "necessary power to take action" and it had "no plans" to give local authorities more powers.

Driving a lorry into a road where it breaks height or weight restrictions is punishable with a fixed penalty notice of £50 - though serious cases can go to court, where penalties can be much higher.

Local authorities in Wales and London have been given powers to use against lorry drivers who break the law, the LGA said.

It said police did not always have the resources to enforce road weight and width restrictions, so all councils must be given powers to do so.

The LGA now wants the power to impose fines on the drivers it calls "heavy haulage road rogues" to try to get some peace.

"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," LGA transport spokesman Peter Box said.

"Councils are doing everything they can to help their residents, but they are trying to take action with one hand tied behind their back and urgently need tougher powers."

'Poor signage'

The LGA said it was seeking the same powers that Transport for London have, enabling councils to impose fines.

But John Howells, regional manager of the Road Haulage Association, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "How are you going to enforce this? In London the roads are filmed with cameras. In the country it will cost the communities a lot of money to have cameras.

"There is a problem with poor signage. On some roads lorry drivers do not know that there is a weight restriction and people use satnav so drivers are very reliant on signage.

"But it's not just the drivers. We also need the authorities to provide lorries with alternative appropriate roads when main roads are closed."

Beer truck crash

Incidents cited by the LGA include a lorry crashing into a tree in Iwade, Kent, and a 40ft articulated beer truck hitting houses and bringing down power lines in Uffculme, Devon.

In another case, a driver had to sleep in his cab for three nights in Ivybridge, Devon, after his satnav led him into a narrow lane where his lorry got stuck.

Christopher Snelling, of the Freight Transport Association, said: "We fully support enforcement of weight and width restrictions and actively help our members to adhere to these with regular updates on regulations and industry innovations."

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "The government welcomes the fact that local authorities are taking this issue seriously and working closely with communities.

"The police already have the necessary power to take action where it is needed, and there are no plans at present to give local authorities greater powers to enforce moving traffic contraventions."

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