Long-haul drivers who don't always have the opportunity to return home can take advantage of rest areas, specially designated spaces along roads and highways, where truck drivers can stop to rest, take a break, or perform refuelling operations. These areas are equipped to provide necessary services and facilities to drivers, such as dedicated parking lots, restrooms, restaurants, refuelling stations, rest areas, and inspection spaces.
Safe and Secure
The issue of truck rest areas directly affects driver safety and well-being. Unfortunately, the current situation presents some critical issues that need to be addressed. On one hand, there are secure and well-equipped rest areas that provide all the necessary services, including dedicated parking lots, restrooms, restaurants, and refuelling stations. However, these rest areas come at a cost.
On the other hand, free rest areas, unfortunately, do not offer the same level of security. These areas are often unguarded and vulnerable to various types of theft, with a particular emphasis on fuel theft. This situation creates a dangerous environment for drivers, who are exposed to risks of violence and may even face personal security risks.
It is undeniable that all workers have the right to have a suitable working environment, and this also applies to truck drivers who spend many hours behind the wheel. Just as office employees can use clean and equipped bathrooms to meet their physiological needs, drivers should have the same right during their stops along the roads.
Analysis of the European Situation
In 2019, the European Commission conducted a study that revealed a shortage of around 100,000 overnight parking spaces for heavy vehicles in the EU area. The report also highlighted that out of a total of 300,000 available spots, only 7,000, less than 3%, were located in guarded parking areas. The shortage of truck rest areas in Europe is a widely recognized problem by industry experts. According to official data from the European Union, over 70% of truck rest areas lack surveillance.
Regulation (EU) 2022/1012 has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, adopted on April 7, 2022, by the European Commission, introducing new standards and procedures to promote the development of a network of "Safe and Secure" standard parking areas throughout Europe, thus addressing the challenge of the lack of safe truck parking. The level of security is determined by considering parameters such as perimeter protection, parking characteristics, entrance and exit surveillance, and staff procedures.
What about Italy?
In Italy, there is a clear division between the north and the rest of the country. In the north, representing the most industrialized area, there is a significant shortage of well-equipped rest areas. The high traffic volume and lack of available space make it practically impossible to find a free spot. Truck drivers, therefore, face considerable difficulties in finding suitable rest areas.
Looking beyond Italian borders, we can observe that some countries stand out for the quality of their rest areas. France and Poland, for example, have distinguished themselves for the presence of well-equipped and secure rest areas. These countries have invested in creating spaces specifically designed for truck drivers, offering comprehensive services and ensuring a high level of safety.
It is important, therefore, to incentivize and support the creation of free and secure rest areas accessible to all drivers, in order to guarantee them proper rest in protected locations. Only through joint efforts of highway operators, individual countries, and the European Community, it will be possible to improve the situation of rest areas and ensure the safety and well-being of drivers, goods, and vehicles.