Engineer calls for HGV Sunday ban

London, UK:  The incoming president of the Institute of Highway Engineers is calling for the UK to consider banning HGVs from its motorways on Sundays.

Richard Hayes, who becomes president of the IHE at its AGM today, wants the government to consider “freeing Britain’s motorways” of heavy freight vehicles on Sundays and will be writing to the roads minister, Mike Penning, to request the Department of Transport investigates the matter.

Looking for precedents, Hayes points across the English Channel to where several mainland European Union countries impose restrictions on the times and days when heavy goods vehicles can be driven on public roads. France, Spain and Italy have a general ban on the movement of vehicles with a maximum gross weight of 7.5 tonnes on Sundays and during public holidays. However, there is currently no general European standard, and there is a wide variation in how long the restrictions last, when they start and finish, the types of vehicle covered and exemptions from the restrictions.

“Restricting HGVs’ use of the road network on Sundays is commonplace throughout the rest of Europe and it is something I strongly believe we should consider introducing in the UK,” Hayes says.

“Weekends should be a relaxing time on our roads when the network is used mainly by the general public going about their leisure activities. Many drivers are intimidated by heavy lorries thundering up and down our motorways and major A roads. Surely it is not too much to ask that we take some of the tension out of the system for one day a week.”

The incoming IHE president believes that the issue of Sunday use of the road network by HGVs should be investigated as part of the Department of Transport’s recently announced programme for reforming the strategic road network. This programme aims to increase the quality and efficiency of the national network, offering a better service to motorists and business users.

It is hard to find what motivation the incoming president of the Institute of Highway Engineers has, for calling for a Sunday road use ban for heavy goods vehicles apart from publicity for his appointment.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that very few HGVs travel on a Sunday and that overall, traffic on Sundays is light compared to weekday volumes.  And one of the effects of recession has been a lessoning of all traffic on the roads.

Congestion is invariable blamed on HGVs in much the same way as the average motorist blames other drivers.  Objective assessments of congestion are difficult but data from the Department of Transport suggests that congestion is an exaggerated problem and one confined to very specific sections of road, often at particular times.

In July 2010 trucks with 3 or more axles showed average speeds of 54mph on motorways and 53mph on trunck roads.  Cars averaged 69mph on motorways and 68mph on dual carriageways.  Bearing in mind speed limits  this suggests that traffic flows are far better than some reports suggest.

If the president of the Institute of Highway Engineers is interested in the quality and efficiency of the national network, and ways to offer a better service to motorists and business users, then far more constructive ideas than irrelevant suggestions about HGV bans are needed.