The honouring by the Polish Ambassador, on behalf of Poland, of British driver Dave Duncan for his fund-raising efforts for the family of murdered Polish trucker Lukasz Urban’s was a superb gesture.
It did – I hope – remind the pubic that virtually all truckers are good people, and deserve more recognition for all the hard work they do. They don’t all throw bottles of pee out of their windows, overtake each other at 56.1mph or, as Jeremy Clarkson would have us believe, murder prostitutes. (Yes, I know that last comment was tongue in cheek, and the fact most truck drivers found it funny and did not take it too seriously is refreshing in a PC-mad world were a slightest joke, taken out of context can be blown out into all proportions.)
I hope the efforts of Dave Duncan will go, in some small way, to strengthen the bond between truck drivers across Europe. A few Brit drivers are all too quick put down their foreign counterparts, but the truth is all drivers are – deep down – all the same; they are simply working hard to earn to provide for their families be they in Warrington or Wroclaw, Bury or Bucharest, Torrington or Tallinn.
Few people go out to drive a truck for the sheer joy of it. Well some might, those who have the perfect utopian truck driving job, but few do. The fact is virtually all truckers work long hours, often in dirty conditions, away from their home for long periods and under the constant threat from others. Theft and hijacking of trucks is an all too common problem.
The moment you park in a layby or in an industrial estate, draw the curtains and get into you bunk, you might be a sitting duck for thieves.
So, more needs to be done to minimise these risks, we need more secure parking, with decent facilities. If we had more, then layby parking could be eliminated. Legislation might be needed to make layby parking illegal – but that can ONLY come if there is better facilities for trucks to park at. And these facilities need to be good and affordable.
And this is kind of where the problems start. The cost of running them needs to be less than the cost of paying to use them. To make them decent, the parking areas need to be good, and secure, there needs to be good showers, good food and so on. And while it’s up to drivers to respect these facilities and keep them clean and in good order, it is the responsibility of the owners to give good vale and deliver on what they promise.
Another area where drivers need more respect is at the places they deliver and collect from. Lukasz Urban would most likely still be trucking today if the customer for his load could have been bothered to unload him a bit earlier than perhaps they ad expected. But by saying “come back tomorrow at your booked delivery time”, forced him to stay a night in Berlin, and the rest, well, as we know, is sadly history. Would it really have been an inconvenience for the customer to have unloaded what I believe was just three bits of steel of his truck a day early? They moan when goods are late, it seems they moan when they are early as well!
I hope Dave Duncan’s kind gesture continues to resonate with the wider public, and promotes the industry, but also I hope it resonates with all truckers and serves as a reminder, that regardless of you nationality, we are all one family; the trucking family.