Saturday, 29 February 2020

'Elephant racing' lorries on A14 cause huge frustration

Andrew Papworth thinks lorries overtaking on the A14 should be banned Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY


With its regular logjams and accidents, driving on the A14 can be frustrating at the best of times.

Yet there is one simple thing which, in my view, could help to make life on Suffolk's biggest road both safer and less stressful - putting a roadblock on overtaking lorries. 
I'm sure I don't need to remind regular drivers along the key commuter route just how frustrating this annoying driving habit of heavy good vehicle drivers can be. 
You're pulling out into the fast lane to overtake a couple of slower moving lorries. Yet, just as you do, the lorry behind switches on its indicator and moves into the fast lane in an instant, forcing you (sometimes sharply) to apply the brakes. 
You then sit for a good couple of minutes while the lorry directly in front of you struggles for acceleration, seemingly unable to huff and puff its way past the fellow HGV it is trying to pass. 
Eventually, after what seems like an eternity, it makes it - at which point a queue of cars formed behind rushes past, each irritated at the delay but knowing they'll face exactly the same scenario just a few miles down the road. 
I heard it recently referred to as "elephant racing" - and that's exactly what it's like, two great lumbering objects fighting for what feels like the winner of the slowest race on earth. 
What's even more frustrating is when one lorry, behind two slower moving ones, tries to overtake both in one go. And when the one at the back then tries its own overtake - well, don't get me started. 
What makes it even more frustrating is that the gain for the lorries involved seems minimal, at best. 
If their slow overtakes are anything to go by, they can only be going a couple of miles an hour faster - yet cause traffic jams behind them, just so they can gain a few minutes at most on their journeys. 
You might think I'm just someone being inpatient who's not prepared to wait a few minutes myself. Who knows, maybe you'd be right. 
But my biggest concern is safety. 
While I'm sure a lot of lorry drivers take safety with the utmost seriousness, many of the overtakes I've seen have been dangerous at best and potentially lethal at worst. 
Sometimes, no matter how close you or how fast you're approaching, the lorries just seem to pull out anyway and expect you back off. 
I guess the biggest vehicle wins the day, but a lot of time you're put into a situation where you're given the choice of braking or crashing. 
The Highway Code already bans any vehicle towing a trailer or vehicles above 7.5tonnes from using the right-hand on motorways. 
This should apply on the A14 as well, which may not be a motorway but is as busy as one.
Posted by Luke Smout Felixstowe

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