Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New Truck Stop Report Backed by Road Haulage and Freight Transport Associations

Dearth of Facilities is Impinging on Lorry Drivers Hours and Road Safety
Shipping News Feature
UK – A new report from Transport Focus, an organisation which has evolved from the Central Transport Consultative Committee (CTCC) set up in response to the 1947 Transport Act, focuses on the plight of lorry drivers who are being let down by the paucity of suitable truck stops around the roads of Britain, and it has brought a rapid response from the country’s road haulage community. Whilst the report comments that car drivers are generally well served it notes the dissatisfaction amongst freight drivers who are often struggling to find space to park at the locations and times they need to stop, and facing serious sanctions if this means not complying with driving hours regulations.

Transport Focus points out that better roadside facilities, with more spaces for HGV vehicles, will make roads safer for all users. It will help to ensure people don’t drive tired, don’t stop unnecessarily on the hard shoulder, something many foreign drivers assume is permissible, and don’t run out of fuel, all factors which contribute to accidents causing injury or worse. Guy Dangerfield, Transport Focus’s road user director, said:

“This insight into road users’ views should help everyone focus on providing facilities that fully meet the needs of all road users. The struggle many lorry drivers face finding somewhere they feel safe and comfortable to stop is a key concern. Highways England, the freight industry, and national and local government should work more closely together to solve this.”

The report finds that whilst motorways generally have adequate facilities for all drivers, although there was some criticism of the cost of refreshments, the situation on ‘A’ roads is very different with the primary needs of toilet facilities, hot drinks, fuel and food often simply not available to the crews of larger vehicles.

Two of the country’s logistics industry bodies reacted swiftly to the report with both the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) backing its findings and calling for action to remedy a situation which many in the sector have complained in vain about for some time. Malcolm Bingham, Head of Road Network Management Policy at the FTA commented:

"The FTA fully supports the findings of the Transport Focus report regarding Lorry Parking which clearly identifies the need for better driver facilities on our strategic road network. The research quotes lorry drivers who said that all too often there aren’t truck stops located where they need them, and even where they do exist availability of spaces can be a problem. We have been saying this for some time and recognise the driver preference for lorry parking facilities which provide basic needs together with security on site, so that they can feel comfortable and safe.”

This situation is not one confined to Britain, in the US it took the death of Jason Rivenburg to start a debate which continues and the RHA is asking for a clear ministerial acknowledgement that the provision of adequate parking on its network is a core responsibility, both for the Department for Transport and Highways England, and saying these provisions should be on a par with the quality of the road surface. RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said:

“The UK haulage industry is the lifeblood of the UK economy and it’s the responsibility of HGV drivers to keep it moving. We have been working closely with Transport Focus from the start to ensure that the views of hauliers and their drivers were fully considered in the research and we welcome the report’s acknowledgement that the importance of driver facilities must be addressed and acted upon.

“The roads are this industry's main place of work. HGV drivers are not commuting, or on leisure trips, they are providing an essential service. We look to Highways England to provide a strategic road network that is safe, efficient and provides drivers with appropriate facilities. Drivers have a common-sense obligation to take breaks and, in the case of lorry drivers, there is a regulatory requirement to do so.

“We are already taking the message of responsibility the Department for Transport and Highways England. We have already flagged these issues with new secretary of state for transport Chris Grayling and roads minister John Hayes. We fully support John Hayes' vision for improving the design of roads and facilities, but that must include facilities for lorry drivers. Highways England needs to get more involved in this issue with motorway service area providers, local authorities and must assist truck stop developers to ensure provision of adequate facilities.”