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LABEL Newsletter Nº 4 : january 2011

by ROBERT SAUTER - Director Test Center Mobility - ADAC

LABEL: No More Relying on Sheer Luck

Parking spaces are in very short supply along motorways throughout Europe. Often, truck queues at truck parking areas (TPAs) extend as far back as the entrances to the facilities. Unfortunately, Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers parking on the emergency lane and spending the night next to the passing traffic is not an uncommon sight on European motorways.

Aside from the daily search for a parking space, HGV drivers also live with the fear of being robbed. That this risk is not imaginary, follows from the estimation that losses across Europe amount €8,2 billion each year. Cargo theft has become one of the most lucrative and fastest-spreading types of crime. Several million Euros worth of cargo are on the road for days, largely unprotected. HGV drivers usually travel alone. Their vehicles, left unguarded on truck parking areas during the drivers’ mandatory rest periods, are an easy prey for criminals.

LABEL launches the first pan-European and objective certification system. Within LABEL, ADAC and its partners have contributed to this process with the incognito tests of fifty TPAs throughout Europe under the EuroTest programme. To provide maximum quality and reliability of the data gathered, each truck parking area was tested twice by two different testers, once during the day and once at night. They tested, for example, service facilities such as sanitary installations, fuel stations or restaurants, whether fences were present around the security zones, whether pedestrians were registered upon entering or leaving, if HGV number plates were recorded along with the drivers’ names upon entering a TPA or if exiting vehicles’ details were matched with the data recorded upon entering. The findings of these incognito tests varied considerably, showing the need for consistent standards. While some truck parking areas performed very well, others could have been made safer simply by better lighting.

While it is crucial to know what the TPAs have to offer, it is equally important to be aware of potential users’ expectations. Therefore, HGV drivers were asked about their opinion of LABEL in a survey conducted by UICR (Union Internationale des Chauffeurs Routiers) and ADAC in 16 European countries. The survey found that 89% of the respondents would head for LABEL-certified parking facilities in areas they are unfamiliar with. Additionally, drivers were also asked about the frequency of not being able to find a truck parking space. This survey among drivers has indicated that an accreditation scheme for truck parking areas, as developed by LABEL, is set to have a positive effect.

The task at hand is to make LABEL better known and accessible to all parties concerned. After all, reliable information on security and safety is very important for truck drivers and their HGVs. The ADAC test shows that results may be widespread, with scores on both sides of the spectrum. This is one of the reasons why European TPA certification is an absolute necessity, so that drivers know what to expect. Only through certification, can comparable standards be created and publicised, so that HGV drivers no longer need to rely on sheer luck.