One of the biggest ifs in an over the road driver’s day is “will I find a safe place to park tonight?” And that question nags at her or him every day, getting worse as the day wears on. The harsh but simple truth is that there are many more lorries on roads than available parking spots.
This dilemma has become prominent in recent years as more and more lorries occupy roads and motorways. Drivers often spend unproductive hours just searching for a safe parking space to rest when their shift is over. Hours of service records require rest and sleep at the end of a shift. Every day. And when a safe parking space is not found, some resort to parking on roadsides or motorway on or off ramps which is dangerous and, in most cases, illegal.
Some drivers park in retail parking lots but when doing so, have been awakened to find their lorries will not move due to a clamp placed on a wheel. The driver is subsequently held for ransom to get back on the road. We have heard a fee to free the lorry can be around £700. It is hardly fair when lorry drivers deliver essential services and are simply asking to be treated as a human being and have proper facilities. Impairing lorry drivers also simply raises the cost of all goods.
The causes of lorry parking difficulties are various, such as hours of service regulations, many roadside rest areas that have been closed, and the fact that much freight is delivered to major urban cities where little or no parking is available. And there are few reasons for lorry stop chains to build new travel centres near cities where land is costly and difficult to find. The additional cost of clearing the land and purchasing permits to build, paying for sewers, paving, etc. At most lorry stops parking is free and not earning anything no matter how much capacity is available and how full it is. Yet the lorry stop must pay for such expenses as repaving, rubbish removal, and snow removal services seemingly without end.
Lorry stops already own the majority of available lorry parking and some are charging for the privilege of parking, which simply just may be the way of the future. But this expense should not be borne by drivers. Shippers should be responsible for the delivery cost of their freight. Indirectly they pay for various lorrying transportation costs like maintenance, repairs, fuel, insurance, tyres, etc. The cost of delivery of their freight should not rest on the backs of transporters.
For now though, lorry drivers face a daily struggle to find safe parking.