A hi-tech crackdown on overweight lorries which wreck Scotland’s major roads is to be launched by transport chiefs and police.
Offenders will be caught using weight detectors hidden under road surfaces.
One in 20 lorries operate overweight, breaking the 44-tonne limit which roads are designed to withstand.
Sensors on the Forth Road Bridge weekly detect several heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) of more than 85 tonnes.
The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency is installing five “weigh in motion” traps at secret locations across the trunk road network to clamp down on such vehicles. They will trigger automatic number plate recognition cameras so the operators can be traced.
Trunk roads director Hugh Gillies said the presence of such vehicles “disproportionately eats into the life of an asset, be it the road itself or another structure. That situation cannot continue.”
Foreign lorries are a particular menace. Drivers arriving at ports on the south coast of England can have enough diesel on board to reach Inverness because they have two tanks. This puts extra weight on the lorry’s second axle, behind the fuel tank, causing extra damage to roads. They are also unsafe.
The extra damage to Scotland’s motorway network – much of which was built 40 years ago or more – comes as it reaches the end of its useful life. Transport Scotland has said that major spending rather than superficial resurfacing will be required to keep the roads open.
The Campaign for Better Transport said overweight lorries also threatened other drivers. Philippa Edmunds, its freight on rail manager, said: “Overweight HGVs present serious safety and road damage problems. The latest Freight Transport Association figures show 59 per cent of UK-registered HGVs stopped in roadside checks were overweight. Large HGVs are 160,000 times more damaging to road structures than the standard car.”
Mark Arndt, of Amey, which operates the Forth Road Bridge for Transport Scotland, said: “Our staff routinely repair damage to the bridge deck and joints caused by heavy vehicles. This is the reason for a large proportion of overnight roadworks on the Forth Road Bridge.”