Intensive road safety operation sees hundreds of lorries taken off the M11, M25 and A120

HUNDREDS of dangerous or poorly-driven lorries have been taken off the roads during an ongoing intensive road safety operation by police.

Despite strict legislation and constant roadside checks, many drivers, both British and foreign, are still flouting the law and putting other motorists’ lives in danger.

Over 1900 commercial vehicles have been stopped and checked in the last six months, 907 of them had mechanical defects – 497 were so serious the lorries were prohibited from continuing their journeys until they were repaired.

A total of 10,991 driving hours’ offences were discovered. In 112 of the more serious cases, drivers were prevented from going further until completing an enforced rest break.

A further 63 lorries were seized because drivers either had no insurance or no valid driving licence. Officers also discovered 302 other offences such as excessive weight or dangerous loads.

Commercial transport investigator, Pc Dave Gorbutt, said: “Despite all the rules and regulations which are in place for safety reasons, we never cease to be amazed at the way lorry drivers continue to try to flout the law.

“One of the most common tricks involves a device that cancels or over-rides a lorry’s tachograph which is in place to record a driver’s hours and ensure that he gets enough rest.

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“In the last week of June we had one of the worst cases I have ever dealt with. It involved a German lorry driver who worked 12 days without a break and on one of those days he worked 22 hours in a day. We gave that driver a 90-hour prohibition to ensure that he rested sufficiently before continuing his journey.

“This phenomenal amount of over-working could easily have caused an incident similar to one on the M11 a few years ago where a tired driver fell asleep and crashed into a car killing the occupants.”

Legislation changes in 2009 mean that police officers can immediately immobilise an offending vehicle and can issue fixed penalty notices or take deposits from the driver. Since January 2010 a total of �99,430 has been collected by officers.

The regular roadside checks are carried out under Operation Mermaid, a national initiative to raise driving standards and ensure that vehicles are mechanically safe.

Regular checks are carried out on main highways through Essex including the M11, A120 and the M25, as well as the A12 and A13.

PC Gorbutt added: “Thousands of goods vehicles use the main highways of Essex, the majority of which are safely driven and maintained. But the team will continue to find and stop the minority of drivers who put the motoring community at risk.”

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