A12 lorry overtaking ban plea

BUSINESS leaders are calling for a daytime ban on lorries using the outside lane of the A12 in Essex.

Roddy Ashworth

BUSINESS leaders are calling for a daytime ban on lorries using the outside lane of the A12 in Essex.

But yesterday a hauliers' association chief said that such a move would penalise its members unnecessarily and restrict them from going about their trade.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) claimed that HGVs overtaking other lorries and blocking both lanes of the A12 were not only causing congestion but also delaying emergency vehicles trying to reach accidents.

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Chairman of Essex FSB, Iain Wicks, said: “Essex FSB has been campaigning for some time for HGVs to be banned from the outside lane of the A12 between 6am and 8pm as part of the measures which will ease congestion on this very busy trunk road.

“Our policy has been based on the fact that many HGVs are restricted to 56mph and to have one such vehicle overtaking another during the busy rush hour period causes congestion and potential accidents as motorists travelling at 70mph suddenly have to hit the brakes.

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“The congestion can tail back for several miles due to the time it takes for the overtaking manoeuvre to be completed.”

Mr Wicks added: “That is bad enough but at the A12 Alliance meeting at County Hall this week we were told by the emergency services that there have been several occasions where vehicles responding to 999 calls and trying to reach incidents on the A12 have been delayed due to lorries being in both lanes.

“If a car sees blue lights in its mirror it can accelerate and pull over out of the way, but HGVs do not have that option which means the emergency services are being delayed and that could even have life-threatening consequences.

“Essex FSB and the A12 Alliance both believe that a ban on HGVs in the outside lane is an important congestion-easing - and now road safety - measure.”

However, Peter Butler, the Road Haulage Association's area manager for Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, said an overtaking ban would restrict lorry drivers from going about their trade without improving conditions for emergency vehicles or other road users.

“A normal car driver overtaking can delay an emergency vehicle,” he said.

“In most cases, a lorry driver overtaking and finding 'blues and twos' behind would simply slow down and pull in behind the other vehicle.”

Mr Butler added that lorry drivers were professionals who had to undergo much lengthier testing than car drivers.

“If lorries were not allowed to overtake, how long would the queue be?

“It would be impossible for other vehicles to join the road at junctions.”

Yesterday an Essex County Council spokesperson said: “The A12 Alliance is committed to finding ways of reducing congestion on the A12 by working closely with the Highways Agency and other key stakeholders.

“The restriction of lorries overtaking in certain stretches is one of a number of possible solutions that has been discussed.”

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