HGV driver tricked ‘speedometer’ for 11 hour trip with no breaks

Illegal driving hours, faulty brakes, worn tyres and insecure loads and other “worrying trends” are being caught out among HGVs on north west roads. One HGV had a magnetic device fitted to its gearbox so the driver could trick the speed measure into thinking the vehicle was stopped. In fact, the driver had actually driven the HGV for 400 miles – without a break for 11 hours.

With commercial vehicles being involved in more than 30% of crashes, a specialist team has been set up – and has witnessed a staggering 378 offences on north west roads in the first four months of this year. The team works around the clock in and around DVSA check sites including Switch Island, and splits its time between Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside. Since the unit was set up 55 per cent of all vehicle checks revealed offences.

They regularly find smaller commercial vehicles with a 3.5 tonne limit loading up to 5 tonnes.

This vehicle carrying two dumper trucks and a digger had less than 1mm of tyre tread

These are routinely stopped and weighed, after which the driver is fined and the vehicle cabled to prevent it being driven away. Anthony Thorpe, assistant project manager in Highways England’s commercial vehicle prevention team, said: “The vast majority of people drive responsibly but unfortunately around 450 people are killed or seriously injured every year on England’s motorways and major A roads as a result of a driver being impaired or distracted.

“Those who break the law behind the wheel are putting lives at risk which is why we work in closed partnership with the police.” Merseyside Police Roads Policing Inspector Carl McNulty added: “Our own Commercial Vehicle Unit works in close partnership with the region in relation to HGV safety and load offences, looking to provide education and, where necessary, enforcement.

“We’re really looking forward to seeing this relationship develop in the coming weeks and months, and sharing our successes.” Plans are in place to work with more agencies for the next stage of work, which sees attention turn to the wider illicit use of these kind of vehicles.

They will be collaborating with the Health & Safety Executive to target HGVs putting lives in danger with insecure loads and missing nets, and recently assisted Cheshire Constabulary’s rural crime team with Operation Permit which cracked down on trade waste and fly tipping. More than 100 vehicles were stopped in one day, with many drivers and companies prosecuted for lacking the correct licences to legally tow plant equipment and trade waste.

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