Friday, October 13, 2017

Freight Body Calls for Twitter Views on HGV Driver Rest Facilities

Changes in Legislation Will Mean Fines from November
Shipping News Feature
UK – Following the announcement in Westminster Hall that from November 1, 2017, HGV drivers are to be fined by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) if they take their full weekly rest break in their cabs, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) is calling for evidence from road users to help highlight the inconsistency in standards of rest facilities available to use across the country.

From next month, the DVSA will start to fine drivers up to £300 if they spend their full weekly rest break in their cabs in places where it causes a problem, in a layby etc., with the DVSA arguing that the weekly rest break improperly taken in the cab can contribute to drivers not properly resting and being exposed to poor living conditions. In addition the practice can also cause problems in local communities with issues including noise, litter, and anti-social behaviour. The FTA has taken exception to the decision, exemplifying the appalling conditions that drivers find themselves when using many of the currently available rest facilities.

The FTA is campaigning for urgent action to provide more secure, safe and good quality rest areas for drivers close to major routes, to prevent HGV operators from being forced to take their mandated rest in their cabs. To reinforce the argument that an increased amount of decent quality, cost-effective rest stops is required for HGV drivers nationwide, FTA is asking for photographs of the facilities encountered by drivers to be sent to the association’s @newsfromfta Twitter account with the hashtag #ftarest. Malcolm Bingham, Head of Road Network Policy at FTA, said:

“We fully support the need for drivers to step away from their cabs to take their rest breaks, 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 FTA is calling on government to use common sense in applying the new £300 fines system, to accommodate the fact that in parts of the country, facilities for drivers are substandard, or simply not available.

“For the men and women keeping our freight traffic on the road, finding a secure, comfortable place to park is a challenge every day. The provision of adequate rest areas for drivers is set out as a requirement in EU law and yet little progress is being made in ensuring consistency of facilities across the country. The British government should be leading the way on such a critical issue and we are confident that drivers will help us to make this point to government in a highly visible manner, through our Twitter campaign.”

EU law states that rest facilities should be located approximately every 100 kilometres across the European road network by 2030 and the European Commission is co-financing safe and secure parking projects under the Connecting Europe Facility Fund. Chris Holloway, the creator of Motorway Buddy, an app designed to allow drivers to locate and book rest facilities, and share reviews of the facilities available, commented:

“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.”

Bingham says while facilities continue to fall short of requirements, drivers should be given alternative options. He continued:

“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 situation regarding adequate, safe rest areas is one not confined to Britain, or indeed Europe. There have been a spate of cases lately in which continental drivers have been using the hard shoulder of motorways to take their daily breaks and many choose laybys for their weekly rest when stranded away from their home country citing the expense of staying away from their cabs, as well as pressure to ensure their load remains secure.