ITS (UK)’s Freight Forum has used its 20th birthday meeting to call for better support for lorry drivers to find safe, secure and welcoming rest areas, and heard how technology can help achieve this.
The meeting in Birmingham was told how demand for overnight parking facilities is increasing more than twice as fast as supply, and that the UK is the third worst country in Europe for cargo theft from vehicles, with much of this is happening in lay-bys, industrial areas and parking areas without security systems in place.
Members heard about an app solution called Motorway Buddy which helps drivers find safe and secure parking facilities, carrying reports and user comments about around 300 sites. It also holds border crossing documentation for hauliers and is available in English, Romanian and Polish in recognition that an increasing number of lorries on UK roads are from overseas.
Those at the meeting agreed that part of the solution lies in the planning system, suggesting that regulations should make lorry parking a condition for retail, warehousing and distribution developments and that planning regulations should encourage and not limit the expansion of motorway service areas which are usually away from residential areas. They called for a joined up approach and agreed to research how things are done in other countries to try to learn from best practice.
The 20th birthday of the Forum was marked by the cutting of a “freight” cake and heard a congratulations message from one of the group’s founders, Prof Tom Cherrett who said, “It was a pleasure to serve as the first Freight Interest Group Secretary to Steve Norris from 1998 until Geoff Clarke of AECOM took over in 2006. The interest in freight and particularly the last-mile has grown significantly over the last 20 years. I like to think that this ITS (UK) group has played a significant role in disseminating the advances made in systems and technologies over this period and will continue to do so as the newly rebranded Freight Forum.”
Clarke (pictured cutting the cake with ITS (UK) Secretary General Jennie Martin) agreed that it is a pleasure to serve this Forum and this event was “typical in being an interesting meeting”, with various stakeholders such as DfT/Highways England/MSAs/Transport Focus/RHA/FTA/Unions and a technology supplier around a table generating a lot of debate. Steven Norris, Chairman of the group could not attend this event as he was in New York but wanted to congratulate Geoff and the group and said “I’m delighted the renamed Forum will be in such great hands for the future.”