LGA - All councils need powers to tackle lorry-mayhem blighting communities

The Local Government Association today reveals a catalogue of incidents where lorries have blocked streets, got stuck in villages and crashed into bridges and homes as a result of driving down routes not suitable for their size or weight, often after being taken there by a sat nav.


A rural village

A spate of “lorry mayhem” blighting villages and towns across the country in recent months has led to calls from councils for new powers to be granted in the Spending Round for them to tackle rogue drivers.

The Local Government Association today reveals a catalogue of incidents where lorries have blocked streets, got stuck in villages and crashed into bridges and homes as a result of driving down routes not suitable for their size or weight, often after being taken there by a sat nav.

A new LGA survey published today found more than half of responding councils said this was one of the most important traffic issues in their communities. Currently only police, and councils in London and Wales, have the powers to fine offenders.

The LGA said many councils are already working with communities to tackle the issue, such as through organising lorry watch schemes, and working with freight and haulage companies to ensure that lorries use the most suitable routes and roads. 

It said there is much more they can do if they had the power to fine rogue lorry drivers who flout weight restriction limits.

Giving councils the power to enforce moving traffic offences - including heavy goods vehicles using rural roads not designed to take their weight, vehicles driving the wrong way down a one-way street or making a banned turn - would help them act on community concerns and improve road safety, tackle congestion and reduce pollution.

The LGA said lorry drivers should also be required to use dedicated HGV sat navs. These are like normal car sat navs, but they include bridge heights, narrow roads, and roads unsuitable for trucks. They also allow the driver to input the lorry's dimensions - height, width, weight and load – so they are only guided along suitable roads.

It comes as:

  • Stuntney Bridge in Ely, Cambridgeshire is known as Britain’s “most bashed bridge” having been struck more than 120 times by lorries and other large vehicles, often due to drivers using sat navs. The last reported hit was in June, and comes despite the bridge displaying large fluorescent yellow warnings.
  • Albert Bridge underneath Middlesbrough railway station was struck four times in the space of a few weeks earlier this year, the latest smash taking place in June, with use of sat nav again believed to be the cause. It has been the scene of several accidents over the years.
  • A historic cottage in Upper Hopton, West Yorkshire, was hit by a lorry in May after the driver took a rural route after following his sat nav. It is thought to be the eleventh time the home has been smashed into. In this most recent incident, the lorry crashed next to signs warning HGV drivers of the risk of collision.
  • Police in Ilminster in Somerset recently issued warnings to HGV drivers after reports of weight limits being exceeded, while residents in the village of Goudhurst in Kent, sick of lorries getting stuck on their local roads, called for action to be taken after lorries blocked the same road twice in two days in March.

Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Transport spokesman, said:

“Councils are on the side of motorists, and are doing everything they can to improve our roads, tackle congestion, and enhance safety but want to be able to do more. 

“The spate of accidents we have seen involving lorries blocking streets, damaging local areas and crashing into bridges on an all too regular basis shows that action needs to be taken by government in the upcoming Spending Round.

“With powers to enforce moving traffic violations also given to councils outside of London and Wales, they could act to prevent disruption by the minority of rogue lorry drivers that incorrectly use weight restricted roads through our towns and villages and cause havoc and mayhem on our local roads.

“They would also help councils unblock congestion hotspots that delay buses, lengthen journey times and reduce pollution from stationary and slow-moving traffic, and help cyclists ride more safely.”

Notes to editors

Case studies

The powers were written into legislation 15 years ago as part of the Traffic Management Act 2004, but have yet to be given the required secondary legislation for councils outside of London to be able to enforce them.