Release Date: 01 May 2007
Release ID: 738
New figures from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) confirm the relatively poor operational standards of foreign lorries working in the UK compared to the performance of the UK fleet. The Freight Transport Association says that the continuing evidence that so many foreign lorries are overloaded, have many roadworthiness faults and are frequently driven by drivers who have exceeded the hours rules, constitutes a major problem for both the UK transport industry and other road users. FTA calls for the introduction of a registration system for vehicles entering the UK which would support the work of the enforcement agencies.
FTA External Affairs Director Geoff Dossetter said, 'Many foreign lorry operators are cutting costs by failing to maintain vehicles in the required safe and sound condition. Add to that too much overloading and drivers working excessive hours and we have an obvious road safety problem.
'In addition, these vehicles have a commercial advantage in that they work on cheaper fuel, never pay any UK taxes, and drivers' wage levels, particularly in Eastern Europe, are lower than the UK.
'The Government is considering a charge system for foreign lorries and the Chancellor has said that an announcement will be made within the Pre-Budget Statement at the end of the year. That cannot come quickly enough. Meantime we also await the operation of the Road Safety Act which will impose inescapable roadside spot fines on offending vehicles - sadly that is not anticipated until next year.
'The UK has created a regime of regulations and enforcement on lorry operations which has resulted in a safe domestic transport industry. It is crazy that increasing numbers of foreign vehicles do not comply to UK standards and are so easily able to avoid the penalties for failing to do so. It is absolutely vital that they are operated safely and we need Government action sooner rather than later.'
One in seven of the heaviest vehicles on UK roads comes from overseas. VOSA figures suggest that one in two of them enters the UK with a roadworthiness fault, one in four is driven by a tired driver and as many as one in four is overloaded.
Fuel duty on diesel in the UK is 48p per litre. The average duty on diesel for the rest of the EU is 23p per litre.
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