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Solving the problem of Overladen Lorries 2007-03-26

Posted by clype in Health, Scotland, Statistics.
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Mr.Jim Barton, the director of trunk roads network management for ‘The Scottish Executive’s’ ‘Transport Scotland’ agency, said overloaded lorries caused enormous damage to main roads. The impact per lorry is estimated as the equivalent of between 150 000 and 500 000 cars.

Mr.Barton said a particular problem was lorries arriving at English ports such as Dover with enough fuel to reach Inverness because they have two tanks.

This puts extra weight on the lorry’s second axle, behind the fuel tank, causing extra damage to roads, and is also unsafe.

  • The problem comes as Scotland’s motorway network — much of which was built in the 1970s — is coming to the end of its useful life. This means more significant and costly repairs are likely in the future anyway.

In a trial of weigh-in-motion equipment on a motorway in Birmingham, nearly 400 overweight vehicles were caught, with action taken against 78 per cent of those stopped.

This compares with action being taken against just 10 per cent of vehicles which had been stopped by standard patrols.

In the Birmingham trial, dozens of lorry drivers were also found to have exceeded their permitted hours and many vehicles were also found to have mechanical defects.

Three of a planned 14 such sites across England & wales.  The Chancellor Gordon Brown announced a tripling of funding for such schemes in Wednesday’s Budget. The Scottish plans were already underway.

Weight sensors would be built into road surfaces, with overweight lorries and vans then triggering cameras sited on overhead gantries to photograph number plates. Police or transport agency patrols would then stop the vehicles and carry out further checks.

The equipment would also be linked to a database of hauliers believed to be most at risk of offending on the evidence of previous incidents.

A spokesman for ‘The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency’, which is developing the project with ‘Transport Scotland’, said:

‘The use of weigh-in-motion sensors is an invaluable tool for enhancing road safety, enabling us to sift out potentially overweight vehicles for examination with minimum disruption for compliant operators.’

‘The Highways Agency’, which is responsible for trunk roads in England & Wales, said they were cracking down on overloaded vehicles because they are ‘illegal, unsafe and unfair to others’.

Mr.Gavin Scott, the head of policy in Scotland for ‘The Freight Transport Association’, welcomed the move. He said:

‘We fully support the whole concept. If an operator gets away with overloading a lorry, they are cheating. There are also safety implications, such as increased braking distances and vehicle parts wearing out more quickly.

‘The [weigh-in-motion] equipment also means compliant operators will not be unnecessarily pulled over for roadside checks.’

Similar sensors could be used if weight restrictions have to be introduced on The Forth Road Bridge.

The technology could be used to filter out the heaviest vehicles on approach roads so that only lighter lorries could continue to use the crossing if restrictions have to be imposed due to corrosion of the main cables of the bridge.

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