Satnav crackdown call

An Eddie Stobart lorry crashed into Gathurst Bridge casuing delays to trains using the Southport line
An Eddie Stobart lorry crashed into Gathurst Bridge casuing delays to trains using the Southport line

Truckers should be banned from using satnavs designed for cars, councils claim.

The plea was made following a spate of incidents in which HGVs have caused chaos on routes where they exceeded the weight or height limit.

Wigan is not short of them. A recurrent problem exists at Gathurst where lorry drivers, either using satnavs or failing to spot ever more prominent height restriction signs, find themselves stuck on the Orrell side of the low railway bridge. They then jack-knife, trying to execute a three-point turn and end up causing long tailbacks, often in the rush hour.

Lorry satnavs are slightly more expensive than regular devices, and include information on bridge heights and narrow roads. They also allow drivers to enter the dimensions of their vehicle to ensure they are instructed to follow suitable routes. The Local Government Association (LGA), representing more than 370 councils including Wigan’s, wants it made compulsory for all lorry drivers who use satnavs to use commercial devices.

Network Rail figures show there were more than 1,700 bridge incidents in Britain during 2015/16. Lorries of a certain weight or width are banned from many minor roads, but police forces often do not have the resources to enforce the restrictions.

Local authorities in Wales and London have the power to take action if truckers break the law, but councils are urging the Government to roll this out across the whole of England.

The LGA said the money raised from fines could be put towards tackling the backlog in fixing potholes, which could reach an estimated £14bn over the next two years.

Transport spokesman Martin Tett said: “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.”

An AA spokesman urged councils to ensure warning signs are clearly visible. He said: “If a particular road has a particular problem then it’s up to the local authority to come up with the signage to deal with that. And obviously if the lorry or any other road user contravenes that road order and that signage then they are open to a penalty.”