Intelligent ways out of the truck parking crisis

Intelligent ways out of the truck parking crisis
Many trucks parking on a highway parking lot

The picture is the same throughout Europe: by early evening at the latest, truck parking lots along the major European transversals are overflowing. In their search for a safe parking space, many truck drivers get stressed. The reason: in Europe, there are far too few suitable parking spaces at freeway service areas and depots.

According to the EU Commission, there is a shortage of around 100,000 suitable parking spaces for the 400,000 or so truck drivers who travel long distances in Europe every day (1). Only about 54,000 of these parking spaces offer a reasonably high standard of safety, and very few of them are certified accordingly.

The most important link in the European supply chain

The problem is serious. Goods worth several billion euros travel through the continent by truck every day. This fleet of vehicles is probably the most important link in the intra-European supply chain. If this chain breaks, in the worst case supermarket shelves will remain empty and many companies will be threatened with production losses due to a lack of supplies. In addition, many logistics companies are already suffering from a shortage of drivers. The profession is considered unattractive, and many drivers will retire in the coming years due to age.

Chaotic situations

Meanwhile, the lack of parking spaces is increasingly leading to chaotic situations at service areas and depots. The influential German Automobile Club (ADAC) has taken a closer look and made a count: According to the study, trucks were parked "at high risk" at every second rest area. At only one of the 96 rest areas along the most important German heavy goods traffic routes that were examined did the ADAC not count any incorrectly parked trucks.

The picture painted by the ADAC is dramatic: for example, numerous truckers parked their heavy vehicles riskily in entrances and exits or on the shoulder of the highway. Even the tramlines at rest stops were blocked.

Solutions are therefore urgently needed: The ADAC advocates, for example, more truck parking spaces near the autobahn and intelligent parking guidance systems. The club cites the Inntal West rest area on the A93 as a positive example. Here, arriving trucks are lined up closely behind one another and sorted according to break time and length. Lasers scan the parking lot and find free spaces. According to the ADAC, this intelligent column parking system has increased the number of parking spaces from 62 to 93 (2). The German government wants to address the shortage with a five-point plan and is also relying on telematics. Additional parking spaces are also to be created - with federal funding - within a three-kilometer radius of freeway interchanges

Billions lost due to theft

For freight forwarders and drivers, however, there is another aspect in focus besides convenience, availability and road safety: from their point of view, parking facilities must become much more secure. This is because the theft of truck loads and even complete containers, chassis and tractor units has become an ever greater risk in recent years. Experts estimate that the damage caused by theft across Europe is in the billions of euros annually (3).

Platforms such as Travis Road Services, with which DKV Mobility is working with, have recognized this problem. Today, a growing number of parking spaces with high security standards can be easily booked online in advance. If desired, numerous other services such as truck washing, tank cleaning or even repairs can also be ordered online here. A pioneering model - but there is still a long way to go to solve the European truck parking problem.

(1) Study on Safe and Secure Parking Places for Trucks, Final Report, S. 23