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Government and councils should ‘stop passing the buck’ on truck stops, says Unite

The government should provide funding and require local councils to provide adequate truck stops to address the problem of drivers parking in non-truck stop locations, trade union Unite has said.

A lack of adequate truck stops is resulting in lorry drivers being forced to park in industrial estates, lay-bys and even in residential roads, where they have no welfare facilities, which damages their health and results in wider environmental implications, say Unite.

Back in 2011, the Department for Transport (DfT) published a survey on the lack of truck stops and found that in a given period there were 5,676 trucks parked in non-truck stop locations. The regions with the highest level of off-site lorry parking were the southeast, eastern England and the East Midlands.

Another DfT survey into this issue was understood to be under way this year but, as yet, the results haven’t been published. Unite is concerned that they have been suppressed as the problem has significantly worsened.

Unite note that while the DfT establishes the overall policies, responsibility for providing the truck parks is that of local authorities. However, local authorities – which are often under financial pressure – are unwilling to invest in these facilities, as they are often not hugely profitable.

Unite believes in order to meet the needs of lorry drivers, a truck stop should include: 24 hour access, adequate parking and manoeuvring, a cafeteria with reasonably priced hot meals, washing and toilet facilities including showers, a fuelling facility, overnight sleeping facility, maintenance facilities and a launderette to wash and dry clothing.

Unite national officer for road transport, Adrian Jones, said: “The government and councils can’t pass the buck when it comes to truck stops. The lack of facilities has massive health and wellbeing consequences for drivers.

“The lack of truck stops and councils closing lay-bys means that drivers are increasingly being forced to park in entirely unsuitable locations, which is bad for them and bad for the local environment.

“The DfT’s approach to fining drivers who park outside of truck stops is simply putting a plaster on a gaping wound. No driver should be expected to spend their 45 hour break in their cab. Proper facilities are vital to this important industry.

“The free market approach to providing truck stops has been a miserable failure and we urgently need central government to provide funding and to require local authorities to provide adequate driver facilities.

“Drivers can be away from home for a week or more and without decent facilities they will become tired and ill. Tiredness and other health issues mean that they are at risk of becoming a danger to themselves and other road users.

“If we do not tackle this problem drivers are going to vote with their feet and begin leaving the industry at a time when the current Brexit uncertainty means that lorry drivers’ jobs are set to become even more difficult.”

About Dan Parton

Dan Parton is editor of Truck & Driver.

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