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There is an old saying in the business world that says ‘a lack of responsibility on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part’. In some cases, the saying is absolutely true. In other cases – particularly where poor government planning is involved – it is not. An example is the recent closure of the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh. The bridge is to remain closed to all traffic until at least the new year while engineers figure out how to address a cracked truss located under the carriageway. The closure decision affects both the HGV and PCV driver alike, along with the operators of the vehicles.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) is understandably upset with the decision. Not so much in the fact that the bridge needs repair, but because it is a costly closure that should have been entirely unnecessary. According to the BBC, problems with the bridge were initially identified in 2010. For whatever reason, the Scottish government decided not to make the necessary repairs back then, leading to deteriorating conditions that eventually created the crack that has now closed the bridge. If those repairs had been addressed five years ago, repair crews could have done so with minimal disruption to traffic.

Poor government planning has now led to the closing of a major artery in Scotland just at the time of year when it can be least tolerated. November through until January is the busiest time for logistics companies as they work overtime to meet Christmas demand. The last thing they need is the added expense and extra time of a detour around the closed bridge.

A Very Expensive Detour

The RHA’s Richard Burnett recently spoke with HGV UK and explained how costly the detour will be to the industry. He says what is usually a 2.5-mile journey across the Forth Road Bridge is now a 60 mile round trip despite the dedicated HGV route established on the A985. Under ideal conditions, the additional mileage adds approximately £30 in fuel costs to each and every load. Companies have to absorb it or pass it on to customers.

Burnett further explained that the detour can add as many as three hours to a driver’s day if traffic is congested. The fact that the government is temporarily relaxing driver’s hours regulations is of little consolation. There is still not enough time in the day to get everything done, and companies still have to pay overtime when drivers exceed regular working hours. Some estimates suggest the detour could cost the logistics industry as much as £600,000 per day in labour and fuel.

The most frustrating part of the whole situation is the fact that the Scottish government is not held to the same standards as the average HGV and PCV driver. Drivers have to undergo competency training to make sure they are safe and proficient on the job. The bridge inspectors and decision makers who could have prevented the problem apparently do not.


  1. BBC – https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-35054495


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