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LABEL Newsletter Nº 2 : September 2009

by BERTA VIZCARRA-MIR — Head of Office, ERF-IRF BPC

Better truck parking areas (TPAs) for safer roads

The European Union Road Federation (ERF), the Brussels Programme Centre of the International Road Federation (IRF-BPC), is proud to be member of the LABEL consortium, and is pleased to devote its considerable expertise on the field towards achieving the ambitious goals of the project.

Being the voice of the European Road, the ERF – IRF BPC, is aware of the deficiencies that European road infrastructure suffers from and is fully committed to mitigate them in order to ensure safer and smarter roads.

As a fundamental part of the road infrastructure, TPAs represent a key element in pursuing safer and more secure roads, therefore the ERF – IRF BPC firmly believes that the LABEL project represents a groundbreaking innovative idea that tackles several aspects entailing both road network and driver behaviour.

Although European motorways can boast the presence of a high number of service stations, usually spread out at 20 to 30 km intervals, the growing number of trucks transporting every kind of goods across Europe coupled with an ever increasing frequency of heavy goods vehicles (HGV) robbed or damaged whilst transporting valuable shipments, call on the necessity to have more TPAs and to adapt them to specific needs.  Nowadays, some service stations offer all but the most basic facilities (petrol and little more), whilst others bear more resemblance to a town’s shopping mall and feature such amenities as showers, playgrounds for children, etc.

Whilst casual motorists might be indifferent to what a specific service station can offer, this becomes considerably different for professional drivers, who often need specific facilities when they have to take their scheduled stops. Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) operators, in fact, need appropriate resting places after a long shift at the wheel, but, even more importantly, they need areas which offer high security levels to prevent instances of theft or damage and good quality services that allow to rest properly before entering a motorway again.

Many accident involving trucks are caused by tired truck drivers who, even if complying with the European regulations obliging them to make regular stops, can not truly profit from their breaks since they are occupied in safeguarding the good transported or because of insufficient facilities of TPAs or, even worst, they are forced to stop along the motorways due to the lack of parking lots.

These serious deficiencies deeply entail, not only the security of the goods and the dignity of the driver, but also the safety of many citizens traveling everyday on European motorways who wish not to find on their way a truck driven by an exhausted driver.

Thanks to LABEL drivers and operators will have the possibility of determining beforehand whether a specific service area will feature a secure parking for HGVs and what additional amenities it will offer through a classification and categorisation of TPAs.

The LABEL consortium reached now a crucial point, after having defined more specifically the criteria on the evaluation of a specific parking area. The partners will now analyse and certificate several TPAs along the Trans-European Network and will propose a design for a label. This label will be placed on motorways belonging to the TEN-T Network and will be used to inform HGV drivers about how the forthcoming parking area fares with respect to some specific quality and security criteria.

The ERF-IRF BPC is adamant that this project will not only improve the security of TPAs and dignity of truck drivers, but also the safety of motorways by reducing accidents involving trucks, therefore the ERF – IRF BPC is fully committed in giving its contribution within LABEL towards achieving more secure and safer roads.

The ERF-IRF BPC is a non-profit association which coordinates the views of the European road sector and acts as a platform for dialogue, information and research on mobility issues. The Federation initiates and supports scientific studies and publications aimed at improving the knowledge of the European road system.

At project level, the ERF-IRF BPC is involved in several European research initiatives that aim at enhancing the overall quality of the road transport system by improving road safety (optimising roadside engineering, designing safer guardrails, etc.) and optimising the capacity of the existing road network through Community-friendly ITS (car pooling, electronic parking systems).