Posted on: August 1, 2016

An independent watchdog is calling on Highways England to develop a strategy to improve truck stops and motorway services after reports of limited parking space, poor facilities and of lorry drivers taking breaks at motorway stops feeling ‘unwelcome’.

Transport Focus, a group representing users of transport services in England, called for improvements to roadside facilities after its independent study revealed motorway service areas (MSAs) and truck stops were not meeting drivers’ needs.

The study revealed that lorry drivers had issues with the quality and availability of roadside facilities and, in particular, limited parking.

The report claimed these issues contributed to driver recruitment and retention challenges, adding that the priority must be to improve capacity for lorry drivers so they can easily take their rest breaks, especially on motorways.

It said, “Lorry drivers report that when making short, functional stops MSAs meet their basic needs: toilet, fuel and a hot drink or quick snack. However, MSAs rarely meet all their needs and lorry drivers perceive that MSAs are ‘not for them’.

“They report not feeling welcome or that their needs are not understood. Lorry drivers’ perceptions of MSAs depend on the complexity of their needs, with those staying overnight feeling the most negative about their experiences.”

Transport Focus is a consumer-orientated organisation representing the interests of England’s motorway and major road users. It also represents rail, bus, tram and coach passengers outside of London.

Its survey questioned a wide variety of road users, including car users, lorry and coach drivers, motorcyclists and disabled people to determine what elements would help to make roads safer.

The section focusing on the responses from stakeholders in the freight industry added: “Parking is a concern for all lorry drivers. Drivers report lack of capacity in some locations and availability of spaces is variable, especially later in the day.

“For those drivers who require long-stay parking at MSAs this is seen as expensive. Some drivers resort to laybys and industrial or retail parks to avoid the cost. Many drivers are concerned about the lack of security for lorries at MSAs. Some report experiencing thefts from their vehicles and point to the lack of floodlights, security fencing and CCTV.”

Transport Focus is calling for action that will improve and increase the number of truck stops in the country, but in the report stakeholders say it can take up to ten years for a truck stop to be built and that many developers give up.

It added, “There is a perception that there is little help or support from government or Highways England. They (the stakeholders) suggest that Highways England should work more collaboratively with planning authorities to speed up the process for agreeing to new lorry parking facilities.”

Guy Dangerfield, Transport Focus’s road user director, said, “This insight into road users’ views should help everyone focus on providing facilities that fully meet the needs of all road users.

“The struggle many lorry drivers face finding somewhere they feel safe and comfortable to stop is a key concern. Highways England, the freight industry and national and local government should work more closely together to solve this.”

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