The freight forwarding industry is one of the mayor industries. Due to the highly flexible and economic industry we can find all our necessities in the shelves but the way the goods get there, is to the dislike of many people: via lorry. Lorries are like ticking bombs, too loud and cause lots of pollution. The criticism doesn’t hit the carriers themselves to change something but the driver who is just doing his job. There are organizations which support the drivers.
At the moment there are around 360.000 trucks registered in the UK, only 20% of all trucks operating in the UK. In total almost 1.5 million Lorries travel from the UK to mainland Europe and the number rises. Road transportation is more economic and flexible. Neither trains nor ships can be moved as fast as trucks nor can they transport the goods up to the front door. And there is the challenge for the drivers: due to strict schedules it is hard to make it on time. Traffic jams and setbacks have not been taken into consideration. If the driver arrives late at the distribution centre he will have to wait till the next spot is available. This can take up to a few hours and the driver has to decide to either wait or disconnect the trailer and get ready for the nine hour rest so he can keep driving during night time.
The driving time is strictly regulated and high fines have to be paid if the times are violated. It is allowed to drive a maximum of 9 hours per day, with some exceptions even 10 hours, if you pause for 45 minutes after latest 4.5 hours. After 9 or 10 hours of driving, the drive has to rest for 9 hours which can be either done during nighttimes or daytime. Therefore not only the biorhythm suffers, also social life suffers. You never know what comes next, where you are going or are you on time and can keep on moving or will you be stuck in a place for a while. If you overrun you driving time, fines can go up to £500. Sometimes the company pays the fine; at least the load got to its destination on time. Sometimes it has to be paid by the driver himself. It is around half of its monthly income.
If the driver is about to do his rest, he faces the next challenge: finding a parking spot. Truck Parks and Lorry stations are mainly overfilled and it is not easy to find a place. Sometimes the trucks are even parked in unmarked places. In some places drivers don’t feel safe and cannot get the rest they need. There are organizations which step in and call for additional, bigger and safer truck parks. In some, the alimentation is not sufficient and sometimes sanitary facilities are missing.
A truck driver’s life is not the easiest but there is still something romantic about it when one isn’t that much under pressure: seeing many places and be on the road for a while. Economy would suffer without their workforce, so soon the conditions must improve. Drivers and organisation agree that their life on the road will change within the next years because many drivers will retire and positions will be vacated. The driver’s job has to be more attractive and better paid so companies won’t lack drivers.
sources: europa.eu, parklogistics.co.uk