If there is one message which should be constantly given to governments all around the country, from the truck industry, it has got to be that we need more parking areas everywhere.
There is no area of Australia where governments, local and national provide sufficient parking space for trucks to take the kind of rest that they need to take, in order to manage their fatigue.
At the moment there is an initiative called the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program which is a Federal Government initiative aimed to provide $65 million per year for infrastructure projects that will ‘improve the productivity and safety outcomes of heavy vehicle operations across Australia’.
Submissions are open now, from state, territory and local governments. Therefore, it is the trucking industry’s job to get on to their state, territorial and local governments, and point out that parking areas in their region are inadequate.
The situation gets worse every year. Old informal parking bays disappear or are blocked off by the local government and new road developments do have some parking, but it is never enough. When a bypass for a town or city is built, it rarely has as many parking bays as there were informally available on the old road.
On my visit to Europe last year I saw the kind of thing that can happen when overcrowding gets even worse. Both in Germany and in the UK, it it is not unusual to see trucks parked all the way along the slip road into the service station. The service station will also be completely filled and the road back out onto the highway is completely filled with trucks. This is both a danger to the drivers and to other road users.
Of course, the situation isn’t helped by the caravanning community who seem to feel they have the right to park in truck parking spaces.
This brings to mind my experience driving a refrigerated semi across France nearly 30 years ago. Around midnight, I had run out of time and needed to pack up for the night. I pulled into a service station only to find that it was it was full.
I managed to park the truck, but not in a satisfactory or safe position. Five minutes later, a police vehicle arrived, saw me and drove over to a caravan parked in a truck parking space. They woke the caravanners up and told them to get to move on immediately. They then waved me into that space.
This is the sort of attitude towards truck parking we need to develop in this country. If we do not, major fatigue related disasters on our highways could result.