Tachograph breaks, the mandatory rest stops commercial operators must take when driving, were the cause of nearly 1,700 lane closures last year, according to new figures from IAM Drive & Survive.
The numbers come from a Freedom of Information request to Highways England into why motorways and major A roads were closed in 2014.
Tachograph breaks are one of the top 25 reasons for lane closures, with 1,669 incidents last year, suggesting that drivers are reaching the end of the period allowed as dictated by the tacho, and the driver has stopped their vehicle in a manner that blocks a road and then causes a diversion.
IAM Drive & Survive says one of the main causes of this problem is road infrastructure – insufficient numbers of laybys, a lack of services for commercial drivers and the impact of long distances of roadworks.
It adds that drivers and their employers can play their part in ensuring their journeys are as smooth and safe as possible and that planning journeys in advance is key.
Researching routes with good facilities for drivers, looking up road closures and avoiding areas where traffic delays are common all help to avoid the need to stop in unsuitable locations.
Lesley Upham, IAM commercial director, said: “Designing the roads and facilities drivers need to operate safely is essential, but meeting this objective needs a long-term approach.
“Until then employers and drivers must remain aware of the challenges and plan their journeys accordingly. Radio road traffic reports and live traffic functions on satellite navigation systems have a role to play, but planning ahead and having an alternative route in mind is also essential.
“There is also a great responsibility on employers to limit the time-based pressure put on their drivers. Nothing will delay their operations as much as a serious incident and if an accident occurs procedures will be scrutinised.”
Other significant reasons for road closures include abnormal load (3,191) and vehicle shedding its load (6,648).