Truckers facilities must improve

BRITAIN must copy the facilities provided for truckers on mainland Europe to attract the extra lorry drivers it needs, according to a Felixstowe haulage boss.

By RICHARD CORNWELL

Felixstowe editor

richard.cornwell@eveningstar.co.uk>

BRITAIN must copy the facilities provided for truckers on mainland Europe to attract the extra lorry drivers it needs, according to a Felixstowe haulage boss.


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Ralph Morton said truckers were hard to recruit because they were being "treated like second class citizens" and there was a desperate need to improve washing facilities, provide 24-hour stopping places and better food.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) agrees – and said it was working hard to try to encourage new developments which would improve life on the road.

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Mr Morton, of Ralph Morton Transport, said: "Drivers are not second class citizens but they are being treated like second class citizens.

"Would you want to sleep in a lay-by? We would book into a hotel or a motel and have some comfort if we were on a long journey.

"But lorry drivers cannot do that. They can't take their heavy goods vehicles into a hotel, and the times for booking in or leaving a hotel would not fit in with their working hours in any case.

"We should be looking at Europe and the facilities which are provided there for drivers. That's what we should be aiming for."

Mr Morton called for consideration for 24-hour motels with parking places for lorries at strategic points around the country to match drivers' routes.

They would need to offer flexibility for booking in and out, and have proper meals at reasonable prices, and first-class showers and washing facilities.

"Too often when a lorry driver does find a place he can stop, the showers are filthy or the food is just a snack, not a proper meal," said Mr Morton.

"If there were much better facilities it would be much easier to attract people to join the haulage industry."

Nationally the haulage industry is suffering truck driver shortage and many Felixstowe firms have been affected.

The situation is set to get worse later this year when European Working Time Directive comes into force, limiting drivers to an average of 48 hours a week.

Experts reckon this will be "catastrophic" for hauliers because profit margins are traditionally so small. It will push up the industry's costs by £3.8 billion, mean 60,000 more drivers will be needed and put 12,000 extra lorries on the roads.

RHA spokeswoman Kate Gibbs said: "We are a long way behind Europe – we cannot argue with that.

"We are doing everything we can to encourage and promote better conditions and make life for hauliers easier. We are working closely with the motorway services and would like to see dedicated areas at services for truckers with reasonable prices and good quality facilities to suit their needs."

n What do you think? Are you a truck driver – do you feel you are treated like a second-class citizen? Write to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK: www.rha.net

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