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Overtaking ban for lorries being tested

PUBLISHED: 09:44 08 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:27 05 July 2010

LORRIES could be banned from overtaking each other on stretches of the A14 and A12 following a rise in the number of complaints from frustrated motorists stuck behind trucks.

LORRIES could be banned from overtaking each other on stretches of the A14 and A12 following a rise in the number of complaints from frustrated motorists stuck behind trucks.

The Highways Agency is currently undertaking trials on a section of the A14 in Northamptonshire, which if successful, may be implemented in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

The route is used by an increasing number of lorries servicing Felixstowe from the Midlands, north of England and Scotland.

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for transport, said there was “a groundswell of frustration” among motorists at the increasing number of heavy goods vehicles which overtake each other on the route to Britain's biggest container port.

Talks have been held by the authority with the Highways Agency - which has control over the A14 trunk road for its entire length from Felixstowe to the M6 at Catthorpe - with a view to implementing an overtaking ban in Suffolk.

The agency is carrying out a journey-time trial on the A14 between its junction with the M1 and M6 at Catthorpe and junction 2 of the A14 at Kelmarch, restricting lorries of 7.5 tonnes or more to the inside lane on uphill sections of the road.

The trial started in March 2007 and is due to be completed by the end of this year.

If the Highways Agency says the outcome is successful, the county council will be asked to decide whether it would be appropriate for such bans to be introduced on dual carriageways in Suffolk

Mr McGregor said Suffolk's trunk roads were heavily used by motorists because of inadequacies with the minor road network.

“Given the volume of heavy good vehicles going to and from Felixstowe, there is a groundswell of frustration among other motorists when lorries overtake each other,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Highway Agency described the Northamptonshire trial as “very successful” and said plans were in place to make the fast lane ban permanent.

But Pete Butler, senior area manager for the Road Haulage Association (RHA), said he is “totally opposed” to what amounted to a restriction of trade.

“Yes, I get frustrated at being behind overtaking lorries, but these drivers are only doing their job of delivering goods and containers,” he said. “If lorries are banned from passing other vehicles, and they come across a slow moving tractor, it would be ludicrous to say the drivers cannot move into the fast lane to overtake.”

He confirmed that the RHA has had discussions with the county council on the issue.

“Experiments are taking place on the M42, the A1 and the A14 and there is no proof that an overtaking ban has been effective in speeding up other vehicles,” he added.

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