Thousands of roads closed a year so that lorry drivers can take a rest

Compulsory rest stops by HGV lorries resulted in 1,669 road closures last year, according to new figures obtained by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

A freedom of information request to Highways England into the reasons why motorways and main roads were closed in 2014 discovered that tachometer breaks are one of the top reasons for lane closures.

These are the compulsory breaks taken by lorry drivers when they have been driving for a certain amount of time. Operators can be fined up to £2,500 for failing to observe strict time limits set for drivers.

When lorry drivers can’t find a suitable layby or truck stop, many will simply pull over to avoid being penalised for exceeding their hours. This can result in traffic jams and added inconvenience for other motorists.

The IAM puts the blame on road infrastructure for causing this problem. Long distances of road works, as well as a shortage of laybys and a lack of services for commercial drivers can result in drivers running out of time to find somewhere suitable to stop.

IAM commercial director, Lesley Upham, said: “Designing the roads and facilities drivers need to operate safely is essential, but meeting this objective needs a long-term approach.

“Until then employers and drivers must remain aware of the challenges and plan their journeys accordingly. Radio road traffic reports and live traffic functions on satellite navigation systems have a role to play, but planning ahead and having an alternative route in mind is also essential.

“There is also a great responsibility on employers to limit the time-based pressure put on their drivers. Nothing will delay their operations as much as a serious incident and if an accident occurs procedures will be scrutinised.”

Other significant reasons for road closures include abnormal load (3,191) and vehicle shedding its load (6,648).