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Lorry drivers ‘must use’ commercial satnavs

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All lorry drivers who use satnavs should be compelled to use commercial models say councils, following a series of crashes on the nation’s roads.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, says that while the majority of lorry drivers are reputable and responsible, a minority cut corners by using cheaper satnavs designed for cars.

Villages and rural communities across the country have been blighted by a recent spate of lorry smashes, it says. For example, a historic bridge in Marlow, Bucks, had to be closed for months – with £200,000 damage - after a driver reportedly drove a truck 10 times the structure's weight limit over it.

Lorry satnavs are like normal car satnavs, but they include bridge heights, narrow roads, and roads unsuitable for trucks. In addition, they allow the driver to enter the lorry's dimensions - height, width, weight and load – so they are only guided along suitable roads. However, they are typically slightly more expensive than ones designed for cars.

The LGA wants councils to also be able to fine lorry drivers who flout weight restrictions. 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 says councils across the country must also be given the ability to enforce weight and width restrictions where there are hotspots of abuse in their communities by issuing fines.

It wants the 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 money collected from the fines could be used towards tackling the national pothole backlog – which could reach £14 billion in two years.

LGA Transport spokesman Cllr Martin Tett said: "There has been a spate of recent accidents involving lorry drivers driving irresponsibly and causing chaos. The Government must start taking this issue more seriously and give councils the legislative tools to help their communities and other motorists.

"It is common sense that all lorry drivers should use satnavs designed for trucks, but this is only going to become a reality when it is a mandatory requirement. We are talking about a very small extra cost to drivers.

"Lorry drivers who get wedged in narrow roads or under bridges not only endanger themselves, other road users and pedestrians, but also cause massive disruption. This has a significant impact on local economies, particularly in rural areas.

"Some rural communities are fed-up with lorries ignoring weight restrictions and using their streets. The additional noise, vibration and pollution make their lives miserable.

"Councils hear these concerns and 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, councils should be able to respond to their 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."


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Comments

  • Tony Martin - 30/01/2017 11:23

    Drivers can also use their mobile phones which have map apps. How can the authorities prevent that? Big brother?

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  • Glenn Ewen - 30/01/2017 18:58

    All bridges, tunnels and restrictions clearly show the dimensions allowed. Doesn't matter what sat nav a driver uses, it is the responsibility of the driver to read and obey them. Simply a Nanny State story. You cannot legislate idiocy out of the system. They'll simply find something else to define their stupidity; like the car drivers who turn onto railways or into rivers because "the sat nav said so". There would have been signs on the way. Nearly all HGV height and width restrictions have signs at a point where you can turn back, or take another route. Let's just celebrate their achievements in pictures and video as they will never go away.

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  • Webby - 31/01/2017 17:23

    When can i expect you to deliver mine

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  • Edward Handley - 02/02/2017 18:27

    It is never as simple as these people seem to think. Truck satnavs are significantly more expensive than car ones because the market for the devices is so much smaller. Although the vehicle dimensions can be entered, the mapping in not always up to date, particularly when the satnav is built in to the vehicle and the owner does not regard frequent updates as being as important as the truck driver does. Even the best and recently updated satnav will not know about problems like road closures so it is always down to the driver to watch for signs and to be a bit skeptical of the instructions coming from the satnav.

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  • Doc - 13/06/2018 21:16

    I disagree its a "very small xtra cost to drivers" Maybe the councils should foot the bill After all it would be cheaper for them it would Cost less than replacing a bridge at £200k .

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