Unsafe commercial vehicles including lorries and vans were targeted after South Yorkshire Police, alongside Highways England and the Health and Safety Executive joined forces during an intensive fortnight of action.
During the operation – the first of its kind across the region – enforcement agencies discovered shocking examples of commercial vehicle drivers who had not secured their cargo properly, including vehicles precariously balancing flammable liquids, scrap metal, steel beams, building material and even a car.
More than 250 drivers were found to have committed a load safety offence during Operation Brigantia, with a further 186 additional offences found on the motorways and A-roads, including a driver found to be under the influence of drugs and another who was arrested after their vehicle was found to have cloned registration plates.
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Inspector Tony Tinsley, lead police officer for the operation, said: “Drivers who don’t ensure their vehicles are loaded safely are putting the safety of others in serious danger.
“Many of the vans and HGV drivers stopped during the operation were fully compliant with the rules and regulations and they went off on their way, but there were many who chose to travel without sufficient measures in place to ensure their vehicles were contained – some of which could have had catastrophic consequences.
“Operation Brigantia is part of a wider programme of improving commercial vehicle safety and is not about punishing offenders; it’s about educating those drivers about the rules and regulations in place for everyone’s safety, making sure vehicles are in a road worthy condition and ensuring our roads are safer for everyone who uses them.”
The police forces involved were from South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, Northumbria, Humberside, Cleveland and Durham.
Last summer, Highways England revealed more than 46,000 items ended up on England’s motorways and major A roads over just 10 months, with traffic officers dealing with everything from a washing machine, sofa and king size mattress to a double-glazed door, garden sheds and a ship’s mast.
Sarah Watson-Quirk, of Highways England, added: “The vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of drivers who use our roads in the region every day are sensible and safe behind the wheel but there are some who are putting themselves and others at risk by breaking the law.
“We’re urging all drivers of commercial vehicles or anyone loading their vehicle to take extra time and care to make sure their vehicles are safe before setting off on a journey.”
Nina Day, of the Health & Safety Executive Transport Sector, said: “Employers must ensure that drivers, other workers and members of the public are kept safe when vehicles are used for work, which includes load safety and security.
“There are legal requirements for employers to have robust procedures in place to manage load security.
“HSE works closely with our partner agencies to help vehicle operators and load consignors understand their legal responsibilities.”
Visit Highways England for advice and information.
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