Driver struck by loose lorry wheel

A DRIVER who was lucky to be alive after he was hit by a wheel that came loose from a foreign lorry has called for tighter controls on vehicles from overseas.

A DRIVER who was lucky to be alive after he was hit by a wheel that came loose from a foreign lorry has called for tighter controls on vehicles from overseas.

Chris Gant was heading to work on the A120 from his home in Dovercourt when a wheel from a German HGV travelling towards Harwich smashed into his car.

The 22-year-old briefly blacked out as his Peugeot 307 was sent into a spin before coming to stop on a verge at the side of the road.

Mr Gant, a highways technician with Essex County Council, escaped with just whiplash thanks to his car's airbags, but the Peugeot was written off in the crash at about 6.30am on Monday.

The specialist lorry, which can be used on both road and railway lines, has been impounded for further inspection by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency.

The foreign driver was not arrested and police said they were awaiting the outcome of the inspection before deciding if further action is taken.

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But Mr Gant said he believed there needed to be tighter controls on foreign lorries in the UK to prevent someone being seriously hurt or killed.

His calls follow a BBC investigation earlier this week which claimed foreign lorry drivers were putting lives at risk by overworking, using vehicles with serious faults and overloading trucks.

Chief Superintendent Geraint Anwyl, spokesman on traffic issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers ACPO, said: “This is a very serious issue and lives are at risk here.

“As we've seen accession countries coming into the EU, the offending rate is getting greater and greater.”

He said penalties against the offending haulage companies were not tough enough considering the huge profits available.

Mr Gant said: “When the car was hit, it went on to the verge and up into the air and everything went black.

“Wheels do not just come off as there are normally about 10 nuts that have to come loose before that happens.

“I know in England lorries are examined regularly but overseas it can only be once a year and we are all in the EU now so the rules should be tightened up for lorries that are here because somebody is going to get hurt soon or even killed unless this problem is sorted out.”

Pc Alan Clothier, of Stanway road policing unit, said the lorry had been impounded and they were waiting for the results of an inspection.

“If, as a result of the VOSA inspection, they find any evidence of negligence we would consider prosecution. But with these things, sometimes it is just a case of metal failure,” he said.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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