- Total cost of foreign lorry accidents in 2011 estimated at £57,000,000
- 30% year-on-year increase in foreign lorry accidents on UK motorways
- 49% of all foreign lorry incidents occur on motorways with ‘side-swiping’ being main cause
- Proposed £10 daily/£1000 yearly road charge for foreign lorries to generate £23m annual revenue by 2016
As the Government considers a £10 daily charge for foreign lorries entering UK roads, motor industry specialist, Accident Exchange, estimates the annual cost of foreign lorry accidents in the UK is already as much as £57,000,000[i].
The figure dwarfs the £23m yearly revenue projected for 2016 by the proposed charges for foreign trucks[ii] and Accident Exchange says the cost of accidents is on the rise.
Between December 2010 and December 2011, foreign lorries were the ‘at fault’ party for one in every 31 motorway accidents handled by Accident Exchange – a 30% increase on the previous 12-month period. There are an estimated 107,500 vehicle incidents on motorways each year, with foreign lorries now predicted to be responsible for 3,440 (3.2%) of these.[iii]
With 44% of innocent party vehicles classified as insurance ‘write-offs’ and average repair bills exceeding £2,300[iv], the total vehicle damage, combined with average values of prevention – for example the financial impact on the emergency services – is estimated at almost £57,000,000 each year.
Half (49%) of all the foreign lorry incidents handled by Accident Exchange happened on a motorway. Users of the M25 are most at risk – the London Orbital’s 117-mile stretch saw more than one in three (37.3%) of all motorway incidents involving foreign lorries.
Despite being almost twice the length at 194-miles, the M1 accounted for just one in six (17.3%) foreign lorry scrapes. The M6 was third with 14.6%. The 50.6-mile M20 in Kent, which connects the M25 to the Channel Tunnel and ports in Dover and Folkestone, experienced 4.6% of collisions.
The most common cause of incidents involving foreign lorries is side-swiping, when motorists drive in a left-hand drive HGV’s blind-spot.[v]
Steve Evans, Chief Executive of Accident Exchange commented; ‘We’re disappointed to see incidents involving foreign lorries on the rise again, despite an excellent DfT-backed Fresnel lens programme to reduce the threat of side-swiping. Foreign-registered HGVs remain one of the most difficult ‘at-fault’ parties to recover costs from. Issues motorists face include invalid insurance policies; untraceable owners; drivers leaving false details or just failing to pull over at all.’
In only 72% of the cases analysed were costs recovered from the negligent foreign party.
Evans continued; ‘The proposed charge of £10 daily, or £1000 annually, might redress some of the financial impact caused from foreign lorry collisions, but we’re not sure it will solve the root problem of left-hand HGV drivers just not being aware of vehicles around them.’
Since 2007, in an effort to reduce the problem, the Department for Transport has handed out thousands of Fresnel lenses to left-hand drive HGVs.[vi] More recently Transport for London distributed more than 20,000 of the lenses to freight companies operating in London to improve cycle safety.
In 2008, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) released a report that revealed foreign lorries were three times more likely to be involved in collisions than their UK counterparts.[vii]
Under the Road Safety Act, revised in 2010, VOSA officers and police have the power to issue fixed penalties or on-the-spot fines of up to £900 to drivers of foreign vehicles if they commit offences.
According to DfT figures from 2010[viii], across all road types, foreign-registered heavy goods vehicles were involved in 88 reported incidents where casualties were either fatal or seriously injured. The total cost to the UK economy for these accidents, based on average values of prevention, was £36,821,180.[ix] In the case of motorway casualties – where the majority of foreign-registered HGV incidents occur – the values of prevention are 23% greater.