Park Life: When Are HGVs Going To Be Provided For?

The British haulage industry, and its image in the eyes of the British public, both appear to be suffering due to a lack of joined-up thinking in the corridors of infrastructure planners. Only last week, a headline in the Folkestone Herald (March 5 2015) read ‘Will Clamping Trial Clear Up HGV Parking Blight?’ The ‘blight’ in question relates to lorry drivers using lanes and streets to park up overnight. 15,000 lorries use the ports in this area. Plans are mooted to help resolve the issue – possibly, but not probably, creating 60 parking HGV parking spaces at Stop 24 on the M20.

How the 60 HGV parking spaces are going to tackle this problem is anyone’s guess.  Local residents are up in arms right across the country with regard to ‘filthy’ lay-bys used as toilets by haulage drivers.  Almost every service station sees lorries having to pull out, because they have found no room at the inn.  In a world where the law requires an HGV driver to take daily driving breaks and overnight rest, under the terms of the European Union Driver Hours Directive 3820/85, where are they supposed to go … and let’s make that ‘go’ in every sense of the word?

Naturally, lay-bys are used for parking up. When a lorry cannot park at a service station, it has to find somewhere pretty fast.  New lorry parks such as the £4.4m development at Exelby Services (www.exelbyservices.co.uk) on the A1 are state-of-the-art flagships that are not likely to see a fleet following in their footsteps.  Across the country, councils are refusing planning permission for new lorry stops, or hitting landowners, who try to create facilities, with higher business rates.  Development projects have seen HGV facilities being appropriated for extra housing.

Then there’s the money issue.  At website forums such as www.fta.co.uk, haulage drivers are airing their grievances, explaining that they only have £10 to live on, to last them five days.  The cost of food at service stations is exorbitant, to say the least and the cost of parking can also make it an impossibility.

So, effectively, we either force HGV drivers into lay-bys, to face the wrath of local communities, or we keep them on the road, trundling past signs reminding them that ‘Tiredness Kills’.  It certainly does: according to ROSPA, one in five crashes on motorways, and other roads on which monotony can set in, are due to falling asleep at the wheel.  Driver fatigue is the main cause of both HGV and coach accidents and fatigue causes as many road deaths as drink driving.  In a 2008 survey by Think Road Safety, 37% of car, van and lorry drivers admitted to carrying on driving when they knew they needed rest.

The Department of Transport’s Local Authority Freight Management Guide says three different types of HGV facility are needed: basic; intermediary and premium.  In reality, many HGV drivers would settle for a fourth category of ‘any facility’.

The public sector planners seem to have failed the HGV industry year after year, creating scenarios in which lorry drivers are viewed as second-class citizens, rather than people who keep Britain’s economy moving.  The private sector is trying to assist drivers, by creating resources such as the online Transport Café (www.transportcafe.co.uk) which seeks to signpost drivers to parking areas, and good, well-planned lorry parks such as Newport Lorry Park in South Wales (www.newportlorrypark.co.uk), created by Masons Holdings, and Gossington Lorry Park on the A38, near M5 Junctions 13 and 14.

Newport Lorry Park’s web page says it is: “trusted by hundreds of lorry drivers as a safe and secure place to park overnight.”  Gossington Park’s page at the Transport Café website says it “offers secure off-street parking with security barriers, security fencing, floodlights, CCTV and security patrols for 50 LGVs”.  Both statements actually point us to another major issue with regard to the current lack of parking and overnight stop facilities for HGV drivers – theft.  We are actually expecting drivers ferrying what can be thousands of pounds of goods to park up in areas that have no lighting, patrols, CCTV cameras or alarm systems, let alone toilets and wash facilities.  It almost beggars belief.

Here at Gauntlet Group, we are commercial insurance brokers with a hugely experienced haulage insurance team, which is all too aware that HGV theft costs the UK economy around £1 billion a year and that much theft is opportunistic in nature – spotting a lorry parked up in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Theft could occur when a curtain-sided vehicle is slashed open, or a whole load could be stolen along with trailer or tractor unit.  We hear these stories from our haulage clients every day, when arranging their haulage insurance, and know how to advise you on what needs to be done next, if you are a victim of crime, or fear you may become one and wish to prevent that eventuality.

Haulage insurance, at the best price, with a HGV insurance policy tailored to your needs following a search of the entire insurance market, is what we can certainly do for you.  Unfortunately, when it comes to finding you a place to park, we can’t help.  Perhaps, however, the more voices we have demanding joined-up thinking, at a planning level, the sooner we’ll get someone to listen.

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