The UK Takes A Step Closer To Decent Truck Stop Facilities

Temporary Buildings for Truckstop Facilities - Cabinlocator Ltd

The provision of truck stop buildings in the UK has long been a source of concern and frustration in the road haulage community. In fact, some drivers have cited inadequate service points as the reason why they have quit the sector or retired early.

The shortage of HGV drivers may have passed its peak crisis a couple of years ago, but it’s still a sector with an ageing workforce, where drivers are leaving or retiring at a higher rate than new recruits are joining. These workers play a vital role in keeping the arteries of the country running, supplying essential services and goods.

The supply chain and subsequently the core of the economy would collapse without Britain’s cabbies, yet they are expected to work very long hours in what are often stressful and dangerous conditions. When you consider they are in charge of handling several tonnes of heavy goods vehicle on public highways, this seems to be an inexcusable state of affairs.

The demands of the road haulage sector are not great or unreasonable: they just want adequate, clean, and safe truck stops that are in working order, so that they have somewhere convenient to take their mandatory breaks and follow hygiene regulations for handling goods and preventing illness.

Yet until very recently, this has seemed too much for these key workers to ask. It is commonplace to find dirty blocked toilets shared between dozens of drivers; food choices limited to a couple of vending machines or an overpriced junk food outlet; and unsafe parking that the drivers must pay for out of their own pocket.

Furthermore, goods lorries that are parked up overnight are targeted by criminal gangs and casual thieves looking to steal the cargo or fuel. This can add to stress and poor quality of sleep, making drivers less able to perform well in their job.

Drivers are advised to park in well-lit areas with CCTV, well maintained buildings, near other drivers they know, and with visible security personnel, but this is often nearly impossible as most of the time drivers are on a tight schedule and have to use the nearest available parking facilities.

The government did belatedly recognize and begin to tackle the problem last year, when the Department of Transport (DfT) released £8m of funding to upgrade truck stop facilities. In March this year, the Roads Minister Guy Operrman confirmed that a further £6m will be released to improve a further 38 truck stops across England.

In a press release, Opperman said: “Our lorry drivers are the backbone of a successful economy, ensuring food, goods and crucial medical supplies can get where they need to be, all over the country.”

“That’s why it’s only right we leave no stone unturned when it comes to supporting our lorry drivers as part of our plan to grow the economy, and today’s £16.5 million in joint government and industry funding will provide them with the safe, spacious and modern facilities they deserve.”

Declan Pang, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the Road Haulage Association (RHA), said:

“We are delighted to see the government’s match funded grant scheme being awarded to projects which will make a tangible difference to the experiences of lorry drivers and provide much needed additional parking capacity to address the well-known shortage of spaces.”

He added: “We are pleased to see facilities operators contribute funding and commit to improving security and conditions at the sites they operate. We look forward to seeing the positive impact the funding will have across the range of projects.”

Ron Perry, owner of Dan Perry & Sons, said: “The DfT welfare grant scheme goes a long way towards realising our ambitious project of delivering modern, secure and appealing facilities for lorry drivers to park overnight.”

“Without the grant from the department, this project simply would not be viable for us. We very much look forward to delivering the improvements so that we can provide lorry drivers the fantastic facilities they deserve.”

The rest areas will be refurbished with new showers and restaurants, and more secure parking. The DfT hopes that the measures will attract fresh recruits to the haulage sector, and help to address the ongoing shortage of drivers.

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