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LABEL Newsletter Nº 2 : September 2009

By guest writer: ANDREAS LUBITZ
— Transport and commercial vehicle PR consultant

short biography of author at bottom of page

Truck Stops with pitfalls

Those who constantly truck back and forth across Europe know the dilemma: the quality of truck stops in Europe is very uneven. The range is from safe, clean and fine to dingy, dark and dangerous, with innumerable shades in between. And often the drivers don’t know what to expect.

Attentive readers of the various European truck and driver magazines know them quite well: colourful presentations of large truck stops and truck parking areas. What is striking, however, that only rarely a word of criticism is found in these reports. The conclusion of almost every such report is "highly recommended". Are really all truck stops in Europe so well equipped? Does food taste good everywhere? Do drivers feel safe everywhere? Or do the reporters pick out the raisins?

Henk C., truckdriver for a Dutch transport company who has been driving throughout Europe for years, is convinced that poor service areas never appear in magazines, because they do not advertise. But sure enough there are bad truck stops, as he has experienced himself quite often. And not just in Eastern or Southern Europe. "In almost every country I've been on rest areas where only one out of ten toilets was in operation, where there was no hot water for showers or where you were afraid of being mugged at night." Also the food was not always edible.

Do truck drivers have to live with this situation? How can they prevent that the obliged resting time becomes a truck stop-pain? "As often I can, I'm stopping at truck stops which I already know and I know that they're good," says Henk C.. "Sometimes you also get a recommendation from other colleagues - as well as in magazines." He would greatly appreciate and use for himself a Europe-wide uniform grading and scoring system as currently developed in the EU project LABEL. "It is known for hotels for many years. Why not do it for truck stops and rest areas?"

Holger P.,a truck driver from Cologne, adds: "I would only rely on it, if it is ensured that the evaluation is independent and reliable." For him, ideally it would be an assessment by the drivers themselves. After all, they know best what's good and what is bad, he stresses. He believes that many of his colleagues would certainly participate in an evaluation via Internet.

If such an independent assessment was given, the 49-year-old professional driver even sees opportunities that in the long run the quality of the truck stops in total could be improved by such a system. "When all the drivers only stop at the well-rated truck stops, it would give all other truck stop operators food for thought" he says. However, in his estimation, this will still take a long time. Especially on the major transit routes, nowadays one would be rather happy to find any parking for the night at all.

Although, like many of his colleagues, he is planning to do his resting times on truck stops he knows, he is not always able to find a free space. "And if the tachograph breathes down your neck, at some point it doesn’t matter any more how good or bad the rest area is, because you simply have to stop." Lucky you, if the truck stop you finally stop at, is then still one of the "good ones".

About the author — Andreas Lubitz

Trained as an engineer and journalist, he worked for almost a decade for the German trade journal "lastauto omnibus", finally as an editor-in-chief. For several years now the 47-year-old has worked independently as a PR consultant mainly in the transport and commercial vehicle industry where he cares for the press relations of notable manufacturers, suppliers as well as transport and bus companies. Andreas Lubitz lives with his family south of Stuttgart, Germany.

Furthermore, Andreas Lubitz was responsible for press, and hosted the press conference, at the Brussels Truck Parking Conference in April this year.



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