The International Road Transport Union (IRU) has welcomed the recently published call for proposals released by the European Commission (EC), committing €60m (US$66.6m) in new funding to improve the safe and secure truck parking areas (SSTPAs) network across Europe.
Currently, there are only 300,000 available truck parking spaces in the European Union (EU), a significant 100,000 shortfall of the total demand for overnight parking and regular rests. Only 7,000, or less than 3%, of the existing parking capacity, are certified and labelled safe and secure across the continent, where an independent check and audit has been undertaken to validate that the parking area has achieved a certain quality level. The priorities for the new investment will include development of new SSTPAs approximately every 62 miles (100km) along the TEN-T (Trans-European Transport Network) core road network and upgrades to the safety, security and services of existing rest areas.
The consequences of the lack of secure parking areas for truck drivers are extremely serious. The road transport industry is facing an acute driver shortage, with implications not only for transport operators and international organisations, but for economies and societies as a whole. The initiative will help truck drivers better plan their daily schedules and reduce the number of vehicles parked on highway shoulders and along ramps. It will also improve safety by reducing the number of tired drivers, allow them to spend less time searching for parking spaces and reduce vehicle emissions and fuel consumption.
Earlier this year, the IRU participated in an EU-funded study that revealed that the lack of SSTPAs is a major concern in the EU, with almost 90% of drivers and transport operators stating that the current parking supply is insufficient. The study defined the security, safety and service offer requirements needing to be met in order for a parking area to be certified as safe and secure. The standards were adopted by the EC expert group in June, and will be the basis for the new funding scheme.
The news from the EC represents a major first step in tackling the truck parking problem and improving conditions for long distance drivers across Europe. Of the total funding, €20m (US$22.2m) will form part of proposals for the Connecting Europe Facility and €40m (US$44.4m) will be under the Cohesion envelope. The announcement comes with the news that the Commission will be making a total of €1.4bn (US$1.55bn) in new funding available to support European Transport Infrastructure.
“Last year, in order to raise awareness on this issue, I invited members of the European Parliament to spend the night in a truck cabin to demonstrate first-hand that the truck is not the problem, rather it is the quality of parking infrastructure that needs improvement. In May, the social partners ETF and IRU met EU Transport Commissioner Bulc to call for making investments in SSTPAs a political and funding priority,” said Matthias Maedge, IRU general delegate. “The new funding is a direct result of the hard work of IRU and its partners over the past two years and an important first step in the journey to improving working conditions in the road transport sector.”