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Truckers using wrong satnavs

The English and Welsh Local Gocernment Association is calling for new laws to compel lorry drivers using satnavs to use commercial models say councils – following a fresh catalogue of chaos on the nation's roads
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The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, says that although they are in an a minority, those truck drivers who cut corners by using cheaper satnavs designed for cars are causing chaos on the country's roads.

In one recent case, a historic bridge in Marlow, Bucks, had to be closed for months, with £200,000 damage, after a driver drove a truck 10 times the structure's weight limit over it. Lorries have ripped off their roofs on low bridges, and wedged themselves in historic town centres causing mayhem. One driver whose lorry was emblazoned with "phenomenal" was anything but - he got stuck in a narrow street, forcing the village of Bruton in somerset to grind to a halt.

As the LGA points out, lorry satnavs include bridge heights, narrow roads, and roads unsuitable for trucks. In addition, they allow the driver to enter the lorry's dimensions, weight and load so they are guided along only suitable roads. However, they are typically 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. 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.

The LGA 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 £14B in two years.

LGA Transport spokesman Cllr Martin Tett (Bucks CC) 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.

"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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