'Action needed' over lorry bridge crashes

The crash on Doncaster Road in 2018
The crash on Doncaster Road in 2018

Councils are demanding extra powers to fine lorry drivers involved in collisions with bridges on roads that are deemed unsuitable for their vehicles.

A spate of such accidents has caused “havoc and mayhem” in towns and villages, including in the Wakefield district, blocking roads and often disrupting train services, officials said.

The crash at the Doncaster Road bridge in April of this year.

The crash at the Doncaster Road bridge in April of this year.

More than half of councils identified the problem of “bridge strikes” among the most pressing traffic issues in their communities, the Local Government Association said.

But authorities outside London do not currently have the power to fine drivers who ignore road restrictions.

The association, which represents councils, said many incidents were caused by drivers being directed on to unsuitable routes by their satellite navigation systems.

Between Wakefield and Ackworth, the railway bridge that runs over Doncaster Road has seen several times by high-sided vehicles.

The bridge had to be closed and inspected for any structural damage in May of last year when a lorry smashed into it, and again in April of this year. Councils who want to enforce action are currently limited by law to organising “lorry watch” schemes and similar measures.

Martin Tett, at the Local Government Association, insisted that councils were “on the side of motorists” and were trying to tackle congestion, but he added that they “want to be able to do more”.

He said: “The spate of accidents we have seen involving lorries blocking streets, damaging local areas and crashing into bridges on an all too regular basis shows that action needs to be taken by Government in the upcoming spending round.”

The Road Haulage Association accused councils of trying to “generate revenue”, with chief executive, Richard Burnett, saying: “The LGA has gone out of its way to demonise truckers.”