Transport by road is vital for Europe, carrying around three quarters of inland freight in the EU. However, the truck parking areas where drivers rest are insufficient or in desperate need of an upgrade. Now employers’ organisations and trade unions in European road transport have joined forces to request action from the EU and its Member States’ to create a denser network of safe and secure truck parking areas (SSTPAs) offering appropriate services. The Social Partners, IRU and ETF, met EU Transport Commissioner Bulc to call for dedicated support mechanisms and incentives to ensure the necessary policies and funding.
Long-distance drivers often face tough conditions at Europe’s truck parking areas. One out of four drivers has been a victim of violence or an attack, and road side facilities offer drivers a level of comfort for their rest periods that is below acceptable standards. European social partners, IRU and ETF, met with EU Commissioner Bulc on May 7 to share their concerns about the situation and request the creation of a network of SSTPAs in Europe.
Currently, Europe has only 300 000 parking spaces available and only a fraction of these guarantee basic services and security levels. Another 100 000 parking areas are needed across Europe to provide decent working conditions and places to rest for truck drivers.
“Many professional drivers have to take their rest in road side parking areas. Decent work in road transport can only be guaranteed when safe and comfortable places are at hand for drivers to park up. Sadly, drivers still face parking areas that are overcrowded and lack even basic facilities. Now the whole road transport sector, both workers’ unions and employers’ organisations, is calling on politicians at all levels to make a network of safe and secure truck parking areas a reality in Europe,” said the ETF’s Road Section President, Roberto Parrillo.
Indeed, a lack of safe and secure parking areas has become one of the key hurdles for truck drivers, which makes it difficult to attract a young and diverse workforce.
“The roll-out of a network of SSTPA is vital for the future of the industry, to provide safe and comfortable working and rest conditions to our drivers. The industry already faces an acute driver shortage and to attract new talents we need good and attractive working and rest conditions. In particular, we want to attract more young people and women into the profession, and the availability of safe and comfortable parking areas is a pre-condition for that,” said Matthias Maedge, leading IRU work in Brussels.
In a statement accompanying today’s meeting, IRU and ETF call on all EU Member States and European Institutions, and in particular the European Commission and Transport Commissioner Bulc, to make building and improving SSTPAs a policy and funding priority. This means adopting EU parking standards and an ambitious European plan to roll out the core of an EU network of SSTPAs during the next legislature. Indeed, the European Commission has recently finalised a study on SSTPA and the Social Partners expect this to remain a priority for the next Commission.
Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport said: “Our drivers need and deserve better and safer resting conditions when they are on the road. Today’s initiative from our partners IRU and ETF, shows that we are working towards a common objective: safe, secure and comfortable parking areas for our drivers across Europe. The EU is taking action, including actively funding parking areas and defining standards for high quality parking areas.”
The European Social Partners for road transport welcomed today’s fruitful discussions with Commissioner Bulc. Looking ahead, we now expect the European Commission and governments of EU Member States to deliver real change for truck drivers by working at European, regional and local level to support the development of safe and secure truck parking areas across Europe. Priority funding must be provided via EU programmes, such as the Connecting Europe Facility and the European Cohesion Funds. Securing the roll out of a genuine EU-wide network of SSTPA will also need support through mark-ups in a new Eurovignette Directive.