HGV drivers should be banned from using standard car sat navs that are leading them to crash into bridges or get stuck down narrow local roads that specialist lorry satnavs avoid, councils urge today.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales, said communities are still being blighted by incidents where lorries have blocked streets, got stuck in villages and crashed into bridges as a result of driving down routes not suitable for their size or weight, often after being taken there by a satnav.
Incidents this year included:
- a Tesco lorry blocking a street in Bristol for 15 hours, with the lorry being so badly wedged it could only be moved by a crane
- a lorry carrying paint crashed into a bridge in Leicestershire, spilling substantial amounts of paint over the road and blocking it for over 12 hours
- in Swindon, the Wotton Bassett Rail Bridge being struck again by a lorry last year, one of numerous incidents that had taken place over the last 20 years
- in Somerset, a car transporter becoming wedged on a local country lane, blocking access to homes in the area.
Councils are calling on the Government to take urgent action and use its forthcoming Transport Bill to require all HGV drivers by law to use specialist satnav devices rather than currently only advising. These are devices which 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.
Making them mandatory will support HGV drivers to carry out effective route planning, especially the new HGV drivers coming into the industry to support the vital role lorries play in the economy.
There are more lorry journeys than ever, risking more incidents. HGV mileage grew by nearly 9 per cent over the last year and is back above pre-pandemic levels.
Lorries colliding with local infrastructure, such as railway bridges, or becoming stuck on narrow roads causes major disruption and is costly to local communities. They often take significant amounts of time and resources to free, cause major congestion across the local road network generating more emissions and they disrupt local rail services.
Cllr David Renard, LGA Transport spokesperson, said:
“The spate of accidents we continue to see involving lorries blocking streets, damaging local areas and crashing into bridges on an all too regular basis are causing major disruption to local communities.
“There are more lorry journeys than ever, risking more incidents. HGV mileage grew by nearly 9 per cent over the last year and is back above pre-pandemic levels.
“Councils already work with freight and haulage companies to ensure that lorries use the most suitable routes and roads. However, there are a minority of drivers who continue to follow satnav systems that take them down routes that are totally inappropriate for the weight and height of their vehicle.
“By making it mandatory for anyone operating an HGV to use a specialist satnav device, the Government can help to reduce the risk of accidents and keep our roads moving.”