The Road Haulage Association is concerned that the parking trials for HGV drivers at Ashford in Kent are excessive, unnecessary and need urgent modification. If they continue unchanged they will result in tired lorry drivers being forced to continue their journeys unsafely.

Commenting, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Drivers’ hours rules were introduced to ensure HGV drivers take proper and adequate rest. This is for the safety of all road users- not just those behind the wheel but also those that are vulnerable such as cyclists and pedestrians.

“As Kent County and Ashford District Councils already know – there is already a shortage of overnight parking facilities for lorries. These latest restrictions should only have been introduced after sufficient proper HGV overnight parking facilities had been created. Despite promises to the contrary, this has not been done.

Locally, Ashford Truckstop is oversubscribed each night and has to turn drivers away.

“It is a legal requirement for HGV drivers to take a mandatory 45 minute break after 4.5 hours driving. Drivers also take short ad-hoc rests before making deliveries or collections so that they meet customer timings – given the unreliable road network such stops are unavoidable. For an incident to occur as a result of a driver’s inability to rest due to a lack of appropriate parking facilities is totally unacceptable.”

The Road Haulage Association has written to the leader of Kent County Council to express its concerns and to call for an urgent review of the current trials.

As a minimum, restrictions should be modified so that parking / stopping time of at least 2 hours is allowed at all times, 7 days per week, in all lay-by areas on the A20. This will allow drivers to take their statutory 45 minute safety rest breaks. Even though this change is not ideal for our members given the lack of overnight parking, it will at least ensure that most local operations will be able to be done safely and efficiently.