Time for a rest?

25 October 2017

FTA campaigns for better driver facilities, with urgent action needed to provide more secure, safe and high-quality driver rest areas.

The next twelve months are set to be challenging ones for the logistics and handling sectors with operators facing Brexit, the roll-out of new air quality legislation and increasing fuel prices, amongst many other issues.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is working tirelessly to ensure the voices of its members are heard by the decision-makers at the heart of these debates. FTA, the UK’s leading membership association representing the logistics industry, also champions the everyday concerns of freight and logistics operators through its freight councils, policy team and offices across the UK and in Europe.

Over the coming months, FTA will be campaigning for urgent action to provide more secure, safe and high-quality driver rest areas. The provision of adequate truck stops in suitable locations on the road network is patchy, with some areas lacking all but the most basic of facilities. The association is calling for more good quality, secure and flexible facilities to cater for differing driver requirements and budgets across the country.

“We fully support the need for drivers to step away from their cabs to take their rest breaks,” says Malcolm Bingham, Head of Road Network Policy at FTA, “but without a consistent, widespread network of safe and secure rest stops nationwide, drivers will still opt to take rest in their cabs, particularly when their fully fitted cab offers a better standard than some accessible amenities.”

The shortage of adequate facilities was made more pressing with the recent announcement of £300 fines for HGV drivers who take their full weekly rest break in their cabs in areas where they can be deemed to be “causing a problem” for local residents or the police.

The government says that DVSA traffic examiners will target spots where inappropriate lorry parking is causing the biggest disruption, such as residential areas and laybys. This has been prompted by complaints from local residents and their elected representatives, who are concerned about the danger and mess some drivers leave behind them. DVSA will also work with its counterparts in other countries to deal with overseas operators whose drivers regularly park at the roadside, rather than in designated parking areas.

FTA is calling on the government to use common sense when implementing this new policy.  It believes the shortage or complete lack of good facilities in many parts of the country should be taken into account, as Malcolm Bingham explains: “For the men and women keeping our freight traffic on the road, finding a secure, comfortable place to park can be a significant challenge every day.  The search for facilities is a waste of their precious driving hours, and an unnecessary cost for operators which are being forced to fund extra fuel costs, as drivers hunt for somewhere to rest.”

“Until there are enough facilities of a suitable and consistent standard, FTA is asking that drivers should be allowed to spend their weekly rest break in their vehicle, as long as it has suitable sleeping facilities and there are sanitary facilities nearby. Nobody wants to see drivers sleeping in laybys, which is dangerous for the individuals and their loads, and unsanitary for other road users.”

The provision of adequate rest areas for drivers is set out as a requirement in EU law, which states that rest facilities should be located approximately every 100km across the European road network by 2030. The European Commission is co-financing safe and secure parking projects under the Connecting Europe Facility Fund. Yet little progress is being made in ensuring consistency of facilities across the UK.

FTA has been actively campaigning for better facilities and putting pressure on the British government to take the lead on this critical issue.  It has also been working with the creators of Motorway Buddy, an app designed to allow drivers to locate and book rest stops, and share reviews of the facilities available.   The app gives drivers a complete real-time view of information such as price, spaces available, facilities and quality and value ratings from other drivers.  It also allows drivers to pay for parking on their mobile phone, reducing the need for out-of-pocket expenses.

Motorway Buddy’s creator, Chris Holloway says the app has highlighted the desperate need for better truck stops, which is becoming increasingly serious: “The shortage of adequate rest facilities for drivers is disgraceful. These men and women provide a vital service transporting goods for all of us and they deserve better.  Motorway Buddy is delighted to be working with FTA to lobby government for immediate action to address this problem. The best way to ensure drivers take their breaks in the most suitable location is to give them the facilities and choice that they need.”

FTA represents all modes of the UK’s freight and logistics sector, with its members operating half of the UK’s lorry fleet (more than 200,000 vehicles) and consigning 70% of the country’s visible exports by sea and air. The UK remains a leader in logistics at a global level, ranked in the top ten countries in terms of logistics performance, and the sector contributes 11% of the UK’s non-financial business economy. In 2016, 2.54 million people were employed in logistics in the UK, approximately 8% of the UK’s workforce.

Transport interests

Freight Transport Association (FTA) is one of the UK’s largest trade associations, representing the transport interests of companies moving goods by road, rail, sea and air. FTA specialises in delivering safe, sustainable and efficient logistics. This is done in the following ways:

  • Representation - we represent the needs of the logistics industry at local, national and European level. 
  • Campaigning - FTA’s campaigns raise awareness of the logistics industry.  
  • Compliance - we inform and prepare our members about the latest compliance requirements.  
  • Training - our training schemes improve the skills and knowledge of drivers and managers in the industry.