A number of measures to improve winter resilience were considered at a meeting between Scottish Government Ministers and the Scottish road haulage industry today.
Use of winter tyres, the short term stacking of lorries to allow snow clearing and gritting on major roads and specific messaging for HGV drivers were among measures being considered by Finance Secretary John Swinney and Transport Minister Keith Brown and the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association.
There was agreement between all parties that in acute circumstances the Government, operating with the police, may have to intervene to stack HGVs for the minimum time possible, so as to allow gritters to clear the major roads.
This measure is part of the Government’s six point plan and having agreement from the industry will ensure that this operation can be carried out as smoothly as possible.
The Scottish Government, at the request of the industry, also agreed to investigate the development of specific road advice for HGV drivers.
There was also discussion around what preventable action could be taken in terms of improving the industry’s resilience to severe winter weather. The Scottish Government, in partnership with the freight trade associations, will undertake a cost-benefit exercise on the use of winter tyres, looking to persuade the industry to fit these for winter 2011.
The meeting also discussed the valuable assistance provided to industry through the various relaxations of enforcement of EU Drivers’ Hours rules which had been secured from Department for Transport. Industry suggested an alternative approach for setting relaxation periods, which Scottish Government will raise with the UK Government.
Aftwerwards Mr Brown said:
“The Scottish Government and our Agencies continue to work round-the-clock to keep Scotland moving and the industry recognise that we are doing everything that we can. HGV drivers are the lifeblood of our transport network, working hard to get goods to supermarkets and vital fuel supplies across the country.
“We recognise that HGVs are victims of weather disruption too. That’s why it is important that we all work together to minimise any potential disruption for all travellers.
“Our meeting today has raised some practical issues around how we can work together to ensure that we are prepared for the remainder of this winter and in future years, particularly if the unprecedented weather conditions experienced in recent days are to become more common-place. We need to continue to look at the efficiency and effectiveness of Scotland as a country in dealing with winter and I am pleased that we will continue to work in partnership with the industry in taking this work forward.”
Phil Flanders, RHA Director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said:
“I am pleased that we have the opportunity to have a positive input to the Government’s bad weather plans and look forward to continued co operation to achieve a balanced approach to keep all traffic flowing in the future.”
Chris MacRae, FTA’s Head of Policy for Scotland, said:
“FTA is pleased that the vital role of road freight in Scotland’s logistics supply chain has been recognised in our discussions with Scottish Government. We look forward to future constructive engagement on how all parties can work together to improve winter resilience.”
A review of problems experienced with jack-knifed articulated heavy goods vehicles during the freezing weather conditions is being undertaken. There were 140 recorded incidents involving HGVs between November 28 and December 12 – of these 74 involved jack-knifed lorries and 27 of these incidents resulted in carriageway/road closures.
The proposal to stack lorries, in emergency situations, builds on what presently exists in that the police can direct any vehicle in a way that facilitates the smooth running of the network. In this particular case what we’re asking is that if directed by the police, HGV’s pull over to the hard shoulder for a short period to allow gritting and ploughing operations to be undertaken so that all vehicles can then return safely to the network.
Stacking of HGVs would only be undertaken under police direction and if conditions warrant it in order to allow more effective treatment of the road. HGVs would be pulled over for as short a period of time as possible and only until conditions allow for them to return to the main carriageway.