Truck parking’s global shortage

It’s a problem spanning the globe – finding secure truck and trailer parking. With driver and public safety at serious risk, some jurisdictions have had to come up with clever solutions. The byproduct, they hope, will be attracting a new generation of truck drivers.

Such is the importance of truck parking that every year the European Secure Parking Organisation presents an organisation with an Excellence in Truck Parking Award.

The award, with categories for both small and large truck parking facilities, takes into account comfort and health, mobility and connectivity, environmental friendliness, service quality and customer satisfaction.

But despite this initiative, industry experts both in Europe and around the globe say there is still a lack of options for truck drivers, leading to serious safety issues.

Truck drivers can only legally drive for so many hours before being required to rest, with hefty fines issued to those who don’t. If truck rest stops and parking facilities are full, they are forced to take the time to search for an alternative which can often be unsafe positions on ramps or in dark and isolated outdoor areas.

In the UK last year, the Road Haulage Association (RHA), delivered a signed petition to the Prime Minister asking the government to address an estimated 11,000 parking space shortfall.

“Commercial vehicle drivers are vital to our economy so better food, toilets, showers, and somewhere safe and secure to sleep are the very least they deserve,” RHA Managing Director, Richard Smith, said at the time.

Image: jevantoproductions/stock.adobe.com.

Even in Australia, where space is plentiful, official truck parking is still hard to come by, with spots often taken by caravans. A survey by Australia’s National Heavy Vehicle Regulator found that 60 per cent of caravanners had parked in a truck-specific rest area.

The RHA said that, more than ever, organised crime gangs are targeting the transportation of high-value foods, such as meats and oils, as well as alcoholic drinks and tobacco, thanks in part to current high prices.

“Many drivers have no choice but to park on laybys and industrial estates where they’re more vulnerable to attack,” said RHA Public Affairs Manager, Ashton Cull. “Criminal groups understand how supply chains work. They know about drivers’ hours and the regular freight routes and stopping areas. It makes it easy to target trucks for their fuel or loads.”

According to the Transported Asset Protection Association, in the first nine months of 2023, it recorded nearly 50,000 cargo crime attacks across 67 countries which totalled €552 million in losses. South Africa led in the number of reported incidents followed by the UK and Germany.

Road safety

A recent multi-casualty truck accident on a ramp in Illinois has spurred action on truck parking in the United States.

Illinois State Police said a bus, traveling westbound, hit three parked trucks on a rest stop exit ramp. Three people died and 14 were injured. The trucks were parked along the ramp leading to and from the truck rest stop, as there were no parking spots available.

Because of this, lawmakers around the country have once again been pursuing changes to address truck parking concerns.

“We have 313,000 parking spaces and 3.5 million drivers. So, the shortage is real in every single state,” Brenda Neville from the Iowa Motor Truck Association told a US Senate Committee in November. “The option truck drivers have now is if they can’t find a space, they’re parking on the side of the road. They’re parking on an off ramp and tragically, we hear about things like what happened in Illinois.”

Solutions

Legislation to enforce the building of more truck parking facilities is one solution which is what is happening in Europe.

The EU’s Trans Europe Transport Network (TEN-T) has set binding targets for member states to ensure there is secure truck parking areas every 150 km and that these facilities meet security benchmarks to protect drivers and cargo.

The World Road Transport Organisation has come out in support of the TEN-T legislation but said the 2040 deadline is much too late.

Other jurisdictions are turning to technology to at least make the job of finding whatever spots are available, easier.

According to the American Transportation Research Institute, long-haul drivers in that country spend an average of 56 minutes each day looking for parking which adds up to 12 per cent of their income.

In response, a number of apps have been created to make the search easier. The apps have varying capabilities, but most are able to tell drivers where the nearest availability is, cutting down on search time.

Truck Parking Club, is an online marketplace with 210 locations in the United States, aimed at helping truckers find and reserve truck parking. It is also constantly seeking out businesses and property owners with extra space suitable for truck parking. Participants range from yards at trucking companies to warehouses and storage companies.

The best truck parking in Europe

A truck parking facility in Northern France took the top award this year for large parking areas.

TIP Group’s Delta Park Secure Truck Parking, located in Dourges, France at one of the busiest junctions in Europe, was commended for its high quality of services offered to drivers.

Image: TIP Group.

The award, presented by the European Secure Parking Organisation, comes just a month after Delta Park received Gold Certification under EU standards.

The facility has a total of 213 parking spaces and includes a lounge, kitchen, sports facilities, bicycle loans and will soon have a supermarket.

TIP is now actively seeking partnerships with location owners and stakeholders for the expansion of its innovative Secure Truck Parking network across Europe through upgrading existing non-secure parking spaces and embarking on new constructions.

Meanwhile, the largest secure truck parking lot in the world is now at the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands, following an addition of 200 new parking spaces. The Maasvlakte Plaza truck parking lot, operators say, offers safe, clean facilities all within the vicinity of large terminals and distribution centres.

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