Keep on trucking, but pay extra attention to road safety during unprecedented times

Will your trucks fall foul of London’s latest ultra-low emission zone?

By Jane Woodcock, head of personal injury at Hudgell Solicitors

Before the UK entered ‘lockdown’ and we began to experience these somewhat increasingly uncertain times, the sheer number of vehicles on the road was often cited as the reason for there being so many serious accidents.

But even though roads have been deserted in recent weeks, and traffic has been at its lowest level for years, there have still been a number of accidents involving lorries up and down the country.

Not just minor accidents either. Some of the incidents I’ve seen making the headlines have involved very serious events.

On only the second day of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, the M25 was closed in Surrey after a lorry overturned and caught fire in a massive crash.

Fortunately, no-one needed to be taken to hospital but the police were joined by various fire and rescue crews to extinguish the flames.

In Hull, where our head office is based, both carriageways of the A63 were shut for several hours as fire crews cut a driver free from his overturned lorry.

The incident, on a flyover of one of the city’s busiest roads, could have been far worse had the vehicle toppled onto the opposing carriageway.

In Nottinghamshire, the police and other emergency services were called to Sneinton after a lorry crashed into a telegraph pole at 7.40am in the morning, with the driver needing to be taken to hospital.


As well as these significant incidents, many more road traffic accidents have occurred during ‘lockdown’.

Studies usually suggest that speed and being distracted are the biggest contributory factors in the majority of accidents. However, in my experience, tiredness often plays a significant role.

Having seen the Department for Transport relax the drivers’ hours rules for the movement of some essential items during the Coronavirus epidemic, extra responsibility has now fallen on drivers to take even greater care.

As a personal injury lawyer who frequently deals with the devastation caused by serious road traffic accidents and fatigue, any previous suggestion of relaxing driving regulations would have been one I’d have been likely to oppose.

However, I fully understand that this temporary relaxation of the rules is a reflection of the unprecedented circumstances which have stemmed from the COVID-19 outbreak.

This exceptional step has been taken to reduce the risks of disruption to vital supply chains across the country.

Even though there’s likely to be less traffic on the roads in the coming weeks ahead, it’s now imperative that professional drivers not only maintain their usual levels of attention, but also take extra care, especially working at night.


According to UK law, workers have the right not to work if they believe they would be placed in danger. To successfully defend a compensation claim, a business must prove they took every reasonable step possible to prevent exposure to the risk of harm.

If you’re a driver who is having to operate a vehicle when more tired than usual, please take extra care and be sensible. If you are feeling the effects of fatigue, I would urge you to tell your employer and don’t do anything that could potentially pose a threat to other road users.

Coronavirus is obviously a major issue which is having a devastating impact on everyone’s lives. But if we follow the safety advice laid out by our Government, I’m sure the impact of this virus will gradually reduce.

In the meantime, stay safe – especially when you’re out on the roads – and don’t do anything which could put the safety of yourself or others at risk.