Every day from 5 p.m. professional drivers are presented with the same picture: All rest stops are filled. However, the permitted driving time has been reached and severe penalties are imminent if it is exceeded. What is to be done?
Despite overcrowded parking spaces, more and more trucks are looking for parking spots at night. Although professional drivers have to take a break of 45 minutes after four and a half hours at the latest during the day, parking is no problem then. Only in the evening does it happen that trucks are forced to park in the driveways of rest stops. This endangers you, your cargo and other road users driving into the service area, as these are sometimes not adequately lit preventing professional drivers from recognizing the blocked entrance.
A study by the Federal Highway Research Institute (BaSt) found that there is a lack of 23,347 truck parking spaces on highways nationwide. In 2018, the study compared the actually parked trucks with the capacity of the parking spaces. The Federal Association of Freight Transport, Logistics and Waste Management (BGL) even estimates that there is a shortage of 35 to 40,000 truck parking spaces in Germany.
The federal government is responsible for expanding rest stops and providing enough suitable truck parking spaces with appropriate sanitary facilities. However, simply building new parking spaces is not an option, because the expansion takes time and the lack of parking spaces is already pressing.
“Some time before the end of their driving time, professional drivers have to look around for a parking space. As a result, they drive fewer kilometers and lose some of their valuable working or driving time. This has negative consequences for their own well-being and for the company, ”says Alexander Ferber, Head of Road Brokerage for Germany and Switzerland at DB Schenker.
To counter this shortcoming, Transport Minister Scheuer presented a five-point plan in January. One of these points is the expansion of the parking areas. The federal government plans to invest a total of 100 million euros for this in 2020. In addition, private investors are to receive funding in order to open up new parking spaces near the motorway – for example in commercial areas.
The three other points of the plan deal with the optimal use of the existing truck parking spaces. Telemetric procedures are intended to guide professional drivers to free parking spaces. At compact and column parking, the length and license plate number of the truck are scanned first. The driver then uses a terminal to indicate the planned departure time for the next day. The system now assigns the truck a suitable parking space. Vehicles that leave earlier park in front of the respective truck, and vehicles that leave later park behind it. Such parking spaces are already in operation in Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate, and are being planned for other federal states.
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While truck parking spaces are full in the evening, many car parking spaces are empty. Another option is to open up this parking space to trucks at night. The BMVI has also lifted the limit of 50 trucks for non-managed rest areas – this also creates additional parking spaces.
In the future, it should be possible to have a free parking space displayed in the driver’s cab while the journey – even before the truck drives into a parking lot. The Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics is coordinating a project to develop a data platform that can obtain and manage information about free parking spaces. A “trucker app” will then guide the professional drivers to the free parking spaces.
In addition to the construction of new truck parking spaces, intelligent traffic control is the order of the day. The increasing truck traffic on Germany’s highways makes this all the more clear.