UK councils call for powers to tackle lorries causing ‘havoc’ by crashing into bridges and houses

Councils have called for more powers to tackle lorries causing “havoc and mayhem” in towns and villages in England. Villages and towns across have been afflicted by unwieldy lorries trying and failing to squeeze through narrow spaces after their drivers followed routes intended for smaller vehicles dictated by their sat nav, the Local Government Association (LGA) says. Ely in Cambridgeshire has Britain’s “most bashed bridge”.

Stuntney Bridge has been struck more than 120 times by lorries and other large vehicles, “often due to drivers using sat navs”, according to the LGA. The last reported collision took place in June and occurred despite the large fluorescent yellow warnings displayed on the bridge. In Upper Hopton, West Yorkshire, a historic cottage was hit in May for what was believed to be the 11th time after the driver followed sat nav directions.

A sign next to the home warns drivers of heavy-goods vehicles of the risk of collision.

An articulated lorry which hit a bridge in Coombe Valley Road, Dover (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

‘Lorry-watch schemes’

Some councils are attempting to tackle the problem through measures such as setting up “lorry-watch schemes” and working with freight and haulage companies to ensure that their drives follow suitable  routes. But, the LGA says it could do “much more” if it had the power to fine motorists who flout weight-restriction limits. “Giving councils the power to enforce moving traffic offences… would help them act on community concerns, improve road safety, tackle congestion and reduce pollution,” it said.

The LGA also believes that lorry drivers should be obliged to use dedicated HGV sat navs that include information on bridge heights and narrow roads and guide motorists along suitable routes.

Edinburgh & Dalkeith officers assisted this HGV driver after his lorry became stuck in a field. The driver decided to follow his sat nav directions which took him along a mud track and into a field. Remember sat navs are not always right and a common sense approach may be better pic.twitter.com/VkQnMWXzik

— Road Policing Scotland (@polscotrpu) November 26, 2018

Navigation woes — Scotland also affected

While the LGA represents councils only in England and Wales, a reliance among lorry drivers on satnav has caused problems in Scotland, too. Last November, Police Scotland shared an image of an HGV that had become stuck in a muddy field near Edinburgh after its driver followed the instructions dispensed by satnav. “Satnavs are not always right and a common-sense approach may be better,” the force reminded the public.

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Residents of a Kent village were left fuming in March after lorries blocked a local road twice in as many days.

“It’s a nightmare. We get a blockage every other week,” Anthony Harris, chair of Goudhurst Parish Council, told the news site Kent Live at the time. “We have a continuous problem with traffic and HGVs ignoring all the signs that Goudhurst is unsuitable for long vehicles.”

Another local, Scott Smith, said: “It happens all the time…

It’s really difficult.

We don’t want to lose the volume of traffic on the road, especially for the local shops, as it’s valuable passing trade.”

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