If you're a lorry driver in the UK, there's little doubt that at some time or another in the not-too-distant past you've had some kind of issue with finding an appropriate truck stop whilst on the road. It's a common challenge and one that the trade union Unite is taking up on behalf of drivers. The union is calling for governmental action to provide adequate roadside facilities to protect the health and well-being of those who make a living doing delivery jobs on our UK roads.
Unite for Change
Unite is the largest trade union in Britain and Ireland, with a membership of around 1.4 million coming from a diverse range of sectors. They made their call to the government during the European Transport Federation's Action Week, held at the end of November.
While the Department for Transport (DfT) published their findings of a survey on the lack of truck stops in 2011, representatives from Unite say the results of further, more recent studies are being withheld because the situation has deteriorated.The original DfT report found that the problem of off-site lorry parking was worst in the East Midlands, southeast and eastern England. In the period of the 2011 survey, over 5,600 lorries were parked in non-designated truck stop locations.
Currently, drivers are fined if they park in lay-bys or other non-designated truck stops. This presents a problem for those on long-haul delivery jobs, as a suitable parking area is essential for compulsory rest periods. The trade union believes that governmental input is needed urgently, not only to ensure the safety and well-being of those making a living from delivery jobs, but also in terms of local environmental issues.
Fair Facilities for All
Since drivers are often away on delivery jobs for up to a week, the need for decent facilities is imperative. Aside from issues of comfort, being able to comply with the stringent guidelines regarding rest and meal breaks is extremely difficult without the presence of dedicated truck stops. Unite believes that “adequate facilities" for an official lorry stop should include:
•a fuelling facility
•sufficient room for manoeuvring and parking
•reasonably priced cafeteria serving hot meals
•overnight sleeping facility
•showers, toilets and washing machines
A Call for Involvement at a Local Level
Unite’s National Officer for Road Transport, Adrian Jones, says that because the "free market" approach to the problem has clearly failed, local councils need to get on board with the government in order to ensure that every region in the UK is able to provide adequate facilities for long-distance lorry drivers. He believes that the practice of fining drivers for parking in non-approved places is simply a band-aid, and that the government needs to put proper central funding in place so that local authorities can provide facilities.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching delivery jobs with available drivers. Over 4,800 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.