Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Road Haulage Association and Freight Truck Drivers Welcome DfT Study

First Step Toward a Proper European Standard for Lorry Parking
Shipping News Feature

UK – EUROPE – Parking a truck at night, particularly with a full load of freight, can be a problem for any HGV driver, even in many of the most advanced countries in the world, sometimes with the most tragic consequences. Now the Department for Transport (DfT) has produced a comprehensive study aimed at focusing politicians on improving the situation in the UK and working towards an acceptable European standard and the publication has been warmly welcomed by the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

The full DfT report can be downloaded HERE and, whilst approving its production, the RHA still have some reservations regarding actual investment in what is a widespread problem with the lack of facilities leading to assaults, accidents and larceny. RHA infrastructure manager Chrys Rampley comments:

"The report advances ministers’ clear and specific commitments to progress. It will help to break down current barriers hampering development of truckstops and promote the adoption of an EU-wide scheme for identifying standards for lorry parking facilities and security. It would have been helpful for the report to have shown different grades of truck parking: areas of ground with poor surfaces; sites with proper hard standing; and secure parking. But the report does move the parking issue forward.

“The report shows that, at regional and local level, average use masks specific areas of high demand that can cause problems, particularly in the East and South East of the country. Lack of parking facilities is inhibiting the efficient carriage of goods and increasing the risk of drivers being involved in an accident. The lack of secure facilities also means that drivers and their loads are also at greater risk of crime, as high value loads have to be parked at the roadside.

“Truck drivers make essential daily deliveries of goods that are used both by industry and the general public. They are legally required to take scheduled breaks, and also bear the responsibility for the loads safety and security. After a full day’s work, drivers deserve the basic facilities of a shower and hot meal with the knowledge that their truck is parked securely. If a facility is not available, then drivers must stop where they can and this is not always acceptable to the local population and other road users. There are no easy, quick-fix solutions but the report points to clear and specific commitments to progress.”

At a time when austerity measures are hitting many services hard there is doubt amongst the commercial vehicle drivers we spoke to as to whether anything concrete would come from the study. One driver, who did not wish to be named said:

“It’s all very well to tell us what we already know. Driving in some parts of Britain and Europe can be dangerous; you can have a ‘safety in numbers’ mentality with areas of high crime making you a sheep in a pack of wolves. What is required are more fenced off truck stops with proper facilities on main routes and smaller secure stops in well lit areas.

“In many of the EU countries we find much better facilities than here, having said that parking Europe wide is as inconsistent as in Britain with busier areas like the motorways generally being safer simply because of the number of trucks and in some countries parking is very limited.

“It remains to be seen whether this study attracts Government interest and finance or if it is just a bunch of civil servants making themselves busy. Nowadays you see foreign drivers simply pulling up on the hard shoulder when they are out of hours. This sort of behaviour inevitably leads to accidents but they simply don’t know where to park. There should be a comprehensive list of secure stops and the facilities to back it up.”