One in two foreign trucks is dangerous
HALF the foreign lorries on Britain’s roads have serious safety defects that could cause crashes, according to the latest figures from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. Eastern European vehicles are the worst, with prohibition notices placed on 62 per cent of those tested from the Czech Republic, 61 per cent of those from Romania, 55 per cent of those from Latvia and 52 per cent of those from Bulgaria. Foreign lorry drivers are more than twice as likely as British drivers to have breached rules governing the amount of time spent behind the wheel, says the agency. And foreign vehicles are more likely to be overloaded, with a third of those tested from Spain, Portugal and Ireland over the weight limit. Kent County Council leader Cllr Paul Carter said he was alarmed at the figures, which are based on tests carried out by the agency. He said: “This level of blatant breaking of safety rules cannot be tolerated. “KCC has advocated a Britdisc system to enable the authorities to quickly track down who owns the lorry and who is responsible. “The Department for Transport is looking at this and is due to report in the autumn. “It is time for much tougher enforcement.” Under the scheme, lorry owners would have to register full details of ownership and obtain the disc before their vehicles were allowed on British roads. The cost of the disc would help pay for law enforcement and the cost of repairing the damage to Kent’s roads, which bear the brunt of lorry movements into and out of the UK, KCC says. It says the move would also help level the playing field as far as UK lorry operators are concerned, since diesel is about a third cheaper on the continent. Three-quarters of lorries crossing the Channel are now foreign-registered, compared with half a decade ago. Mr Carter added: “Some 10,000 lorries cross the Channel every day and use the M2 and M20. “The number is growing year on year. We must do all we can to cut the number of accidents on our roads. “Lorry accidents are serious and can cause traffic havoc for many hours.” Cllr Carter said charging a £10 levy on every lorry crossing the Channel, or introducing the Britdisc system, would raise £35 million.