There has been discussion in the road transport sector recently regarding how to deal with truck weight breaches on the road. Some associations are questioning the traditional approach of imposing heavy fines.
Local Councils Set to Introduce Fines
Local councils tend to impose heavy fines on haulage workers who are caught breaching their weight limit. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has initiated a debate by proposing that this might not be the best way to deter this sort of behaviour, and they have proposed some alternatives. They feel that fining lorry drivers would be too punitive and that instead of fines, there should be better communication.
The RHA was prompted to take a view on the issue in the face of recent criticisms that the Local Government Association (LGA) issued against the transport sector. The LGA called for powers to fine lorry drivers carrying loads that exceed their weight limit, causing damage to the infrastructure and quality of life in small towns and villages.
Current Fine Framework
There is already a framework in place in some areas in the United Kingdom for fining heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) when it comes to weight and height restrictions, specifically on smaller roads. In Wales, the Traffic Management Act allows local governments to implement such fines. London also has similar powers in place. The LGA wants the implementation of these laws to be devolved to local authorities throughout the country since the police lack the resources to do so on any consistent level.
The RHA has also highlighted the issue of implementation. There are several ways the government can discourage lorry drivers to breach their weight and height limit; however, often the tools to actually enforce these methods are not present. While big cities like London have a large array of cameras in place that can be used for enforcement, smaller cities and towns do not have such tools, making it much harder to tackle the problem.
A Better Solution
The RHA advises a shift from an exclusively punitive top-down approach to a system of collaboration and dialogue to address the problem. By encouraging and enabling local community groups to enter into discussion with business owners and local logistics firms, solutions that everyone can buy into are more likely to be found. Not only would this approach be more effective, but – according to the RHA – it would also be more affordable and more sustainable in the long term.
Better signage is another way to tackle the issue, according to the RHA. Lorry drivers are very reliant on signs, and so local councils must ensure that the signs in their area are easily visible and placed in correct areas. Haulage workers need to be clear about the height and weight limits of the area in which they are driving so that they don’t end up breaking the regulations accidentally.
The discussion is set to continue, but it is clear that there is no single solution to this problem. A mix of better communication and incentives, along with a collaborative approach, will ultimately reduce the incident rate and improve the quality of life for both the haulage worker and the local resident.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage work with available drivers. Over 5,000 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.