OVER the last few years many people have suggested a lorry overtaking ban on the A14. It seems to me that this has not been thought through. Let me put forward some likely events should a ban exist.
1. Just because a ban works somewhere else doesn’t mean necessarily that it will work here. The two nearest to us (M11 and A14 in Northamptonshire) are very short distances and are in rural settings, whereas the A14 ban would be considerably longer and would have a number of junctions, garages and local traffic to contend with.
2. A lorry overtaking restriction would mean just that. There would be no overtaking allowed regardless of what the slower vehicle could be – a bus, car and caravan or even a tractor and trailer (they still use the A14). Lorries would thus form a slow convey blocking the nearside lane. As a result cars and other vehicles that hitherto would travel in the nearside lane would now find this impractical and move to the other lane, clogging it up and virtually eliminating braking distances.
3. Joining and leaving the various junctions could become a nightmare. Once a vehicle squeezes its way in, it could be difficult to move to the other clogged lane. Leaving at a junction could also be very hazardous. Imagine trying to find a gap among the convey of lorries whose drivers could be intimidating by being forced with this restriction and making it awkward for traffic from the outside lane to move over.
What is likely to happen is that the braking distance left by the lorry would be, albeit temporarily, filled by an exiting vehicle and when a shunt happens who is more likely to get the blame?
If you think I exaggerate then try joining the Cambridge-bound A14 at Godmanchester about 60 seconds after the lights have turned green at Spittals and you will see what I mean – and that’s without the ban.
4. After a ban was in force for say a week or two, lorry drivers from the Midlands (and vice versa) fed up with it would avoid it by using the A1 and A428, thus clogging these routes and making it even more difficult for Buckden residents to get out.
By all means have ideas, but they have to be thought through. Years ago a suggestion was made to ban lorries altogether during the rush hour. Where were 2,000 or so lorries going to park when you take into consideration that Swavesey services has only 60 slots? What about their schedule deadlines?
Sitting for miles behind two lorries is frustrating to say the least, but I think it is the lesser of two evils.
It is unlikely that it will happen to you every day, but the consequences of a lorry overtaking ban would always be there.