Lane closure link to tachograph breaks

Highways England cites mandatory rest breaks for HGV drivers as one of the top causes of lane closures on the UK road network.

With a lack of infrastructure to cater for increasing numbers of lorries on the road network and large distances between rest facilities, drivers are often faced with the need to stop their vehicles in inconvenient locations in order to conform to driver hours regulations.

This was the finding of IAM Drive & Survive following analysis of data received from Highways England under a Freedom of Information request. When asked why motorways and major A roads were closed during last year, tachograph breaks were linked to 1669 closures and was one of the top 25 reasons. Also in the top 25 were abnormal loads with over 3000 incidents and load shedding with over 6500 incidents during 2014.

According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists, one main reason for the need for such unconventional breaks is infrastructure related with insufficient numbers of laybys, few commercial driver service areas and the effect of long stretches of roadworks on the hours driven by commercial drivers.

Given this poor infrastructure, hauliers are being asked to place greater emphasis on route planning to reduce the likelihood of drivers being left with no choice in where to take breaks. Taking account of traffic delays caused by road closures and roadworks and factoring in enough time for breaks in suitable facilities should be part of the fleet management task.

Placing more emphasis on road safety and less on commercial time pressures is also a key element in preventing drivers from having to stop in unsuitable locations, according to IAM’s commercial director, Lesley Upham.

“There is 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,” commented Lesley.

Speaking about the poor facilities on the UK road networks, Lesley Upham continued, “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. Planning ahead and having an alternative route in mind is essential.

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