The Local Government Association (LGA) wants local councils to be given the power to fine lorry drivers who career through rural communities and cause damage to country roads.
It has also called for any surplus from fines to be spent on tackling potholes.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, warns that incidents of reckless driving are not only causing disruption to rural communities but putting lives at risk. New cases include lorries crashing into cottages, partially demolishing a historic bridge, bouncing off trees, becoming wedged in country lanes, losing a load after hitting a low bridge and being beached on a grass mound at a junction.
Local authorities up and down the country are taking lorry drivers who ignore weight restrictions in rural communities to court whenever possible.
However, according to the LGA, councils are being hampered by a system that is expensive, time-consuming and bureaucratic, clogging up magistrates’ courts with work that could be done more cheaply and effectively if councils had civil enforcement powers to issue fines themselves. Police have this power but their resources are often stretched in rural areas.
LGA transport spokesman Cllr Peter Box said: “The actions of a minority of reckless lorry drivers inflicted on rural communities underline the need for councils to be given proper powers to deal with this increasing problem. If these drivers know they will face fines they will think twice about such selfish and irresponsible behaviour.
“Councils are doing everything they can to help their residents by taking rogue lorry drivers to court. However, it is a time-consuming, costly and bureaucratic process and there is no guarantee councils will even be able to recoup their prosecution costs.
“We are calling for a streamlined system which allows councils to fine lorry drivers who persistently blight communities. Councils want to be able to respond to their residents’ concerns.
“We would stress that most lorry drivers are reputable and drive responsibly. These powers would be targeted at the minority who do not follow the law and drag the rest of the sector down. This is also about protecting the drivers’ safety as well as the safety of residents and other road users.”