NEARLY half of the 2,000 lorries stopped by Essex Police this year have been found to have mechanical defects.

Essex Police have stopped and checked more than 1,900 lorries since January with 907 discovered to have mechanical defects. In 497 of those cases the defects were so serious the lorry was prohibited from continuing its journey.

Under Operation Mermaid, regular stop checks have been carried out by police on a number of key roads in the county including the M25 and M11 which run through the Epping Forest District.

As well as the mechanical defects uncovered, 112 drivers were temporarily stopped from driving because they had worked for considerably longer hours than is legally allowed.

A further 63 lorries were seized after it was found their drivers either had no insurance or did not have valid driving licences, and officers also discovered 302 other offences such as excessive weight or dangerous loads.

PC Dave Gorbutt, one of Essex Police’s commercial transport investigators, said: “Despite all the rules and regulations which are in place for safety reasons, we never cease to be amazed at the way lorry drivers continue to try to flout the law.

“One of the most common tricks involves a device that cancels or overrides a lorry’s tachograph that is in place to record a driver’s hours and ensure that he gets enough rest to remain safe at the wheel.

“We often find devices to stop the tachos and give false readings. In the last week of June we had one of the worst cases I have ever dealt with. It involved a German lorry driver who worked 12 days without a break and on one of those days he worked 22 hours in a day. We gave that driver a 90-hour prohibition to ensure that he rested sufficiently before continuing his journey.

“The phenomenal amount of over-working could easily have caused an incident similar to one on the M11 a few years ago where a tired driver fell asleep and crashed into a car killing the occupants.”