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The Foreign Hazard on the Roads in the UK
Nearly one in ten lorries involved in accidents on British roads is foreign - putting thousands of British lives at risk, damning official figures reveal.
More than 2,300 collisions a year involve foreign registered vehicles including cars, coaches, motorbikes, vans and lorries.
Leaving more than 400 motorists a year victims of potentially fatal "side-swipe" collisions from blind-sided foreign lorries.
The juggernauts, with the steering side on the left-hand side, often fail to see cars when the pull out to overtake - "side-swiping" unwary British drivers, sometimes with devastating results.
This has prompted the Highways Agency to distribute 40,000 window-mounted lenses - known as "Fresnel lenses" - to left-hand drive trucks entering the UK across the Dover Straits.
Fresnel lenses are small wafer thin sheets of flexible plastic - about 10 inches by 12 inches - with a moulded optical lens that self-adhere to flat glass. The lenses are supplied in an envelope printed with instructions in five languages.
Now the Government's Highways Agency will distribute a further 90,000 lenses, targeting major ports in both England and France.
A trial showed a reduction in side-swipe incidents in the south-east from roughly 26 incidents per week to 11 per week- an overall reduction of 59%. A side-swipe incident is when a truck changes lane and strikes a vehicle travelling alongside.
The Transport Department said: "Nine per cent of all HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) in accidents are foreign registered. Of these 1,117 HGVs, 982 were left hand drive and over 7.5 tonnes in weight."
"Some 409 foreign registered left hand drive HGVs were changing lane to the right at the time of the accident and 14 were changing lane to the left."
These figures were produced by a survey conducted by the Highways Agency, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency and the Immigration Service.
A total of 40,000 stick-on Fresnel lenses were distributed free of charge at three French ports to drivers of left-hand drive lorries coming to the UK.
A new wave of 90,000 lenses will be distributed at Liverpool, the Hull ports, Newcastle, Heysham and Harwich and in France at Calais, Coquelles and Dunkirk.
Overseas hauliers who flout the rules of the road also face on the spot penalties and having their vehicles immobilised. Also, under EU rules, existing goods vehicles, first registered from January 2000, will be retro-fitted with wide-angle and close proximity mirrors on the passenger side by March 2009.