The Local Government Association warns that large lorries driving illegally on small rural roads are causing serious disruption to communities
Lorry drivers ignoring weight restrictions on minor roads have caused a ‘spate of accidents’, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, has said that lorry drivers are causing ‘bedlam’ for rural communities by driving irresponsibly on restricted roads and causing accidents.
The LGA is calling for increased powers for local authorities to help tackle the problem as police forces often do not have the resources to enforce vehicle restrictions. Drivers who break height or weight restrictions on roads receive a £50 fixed penalty notice. More serious cases can go to court, where drivers may face higher penalties.
Local authorities in Wales and London have been given additional powers which allow them to enforce a ban on lorries of certain weights and heights on some roads. Across the rest of England, local authorities do not have such powers and it is currently only the police who are able to enforce such restrictions.
Incidents cited by the LGA include a 40ft articulated truck damaging houses and power lines in Devon, and a driver having to spend three nights sleeping in his lorry cab after his satnav led him into a narrow lane, where he became stuck.
John Howells, regional manager of the Road Haulage Association, argued that the problem does not solely lie with lorry drivers; poor signage and satnavs are also to blame for incidents.
Anthony Welsh, a serious injury solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Cardiff office, said: “Lorry drivers who flout the law by ignoring signs not only cause serious disruption to rural communities but also risk a serious road traffic accident.
“The government urgently needs to consider the warnings from the LGA, but to also think laterally. The answer shouldn’t be a knee jerk ‘punish the driver’ as we suspect that deadlines imposed on drivers by employers with unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved are also to blame.
“Local authorities need to have the power to penalise those who behave recklessly on rural roads, but also the framework and the funding to make sure that when they do so they are not simply hitting out at the drivers alone if the employers are really to blame.
“The current £50 penalty for people driving illegally on restricted roads is not only a paltry punishment which needs urgent review, but it is also a blunt instrument which fails to look at why the laws are ignored when larger fines on employers may be the real answer.”
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