Nobody likes going around and looking for a place to park. You don’t like it when you are a driver and you drive a car back home. And imagine that you drive a truck. Yes: a big vehicle that you can’t park everywhere you want. You are in a foreign country on a truck parking you don’t know, you have to find a safe park place to park the truck with valuable goods in your trailer and then you can eat and rest . And you can’t find that truck parking. Annoying is a too soft word to describe that situation.
Dangerous truck parking
Truck drivers in Europe face a serious challenge when it comes to finding safe and secure truck parking areas for their vehicles. According to the International Road Transport Union [IRU], there is a significant shortfall of 100,000 truck parking spaces in the European Union [EU], compared to the total demand . What does it mean? many drivers have to park their trucks in non-secured parking zones or unsafe locations, such as hard shoulders, exposing themselves and other road users to potential thefts and a high risk of accidents.
Europe sees the problem
The European Commission [EC] is aware of this problem and has taken several measures to improve the situation. One of them is the development of rest areas on motorways approximately every 100 km. That is a part of the revised 2013 TEN-T guidelines for the road transport infrastructure of the core network . These rest areas are supposed to provide appropriate parking spaces for commercial road users with an appropriate level of safety and security.
Digitalization means security
Another measure is the adoption of specifications for the exchange of data related to safe and secure parking areas, as part of the ITS Directive 2010/40/EU . These specifications aim to ensure EU-wide accessible information on the location, equipment, and facilities of existing parking areas. The important thing is as well as the possibility to book them in advance using for example mobile apps. is also managing a European Access Point for Truck Parking Data, which provides access to safe and secure truck parking data in DATEX II format .
We need know-how
Will all those bright ideas solve the truck parking problem in the EU immediately? Not so fast. Current measures are not enough to solve the problem completely. There is still a need for more capacity, more transparency, and more standardization of security ratings for parking locations. The IRU has launched the European Truck Parking Award (ETPA) initiative, which aims to promote best practices and encourage parking operators to improve their services. The ETPA is based on a set of criteria that cover the security, comfort, convenience, and sustainability aspects of parking areas. The ETPA also provides a platform for drivers and planning managers to share their feedback and reviews on parking locations .
The ETPA is not the only initiative that seeks to address the truck parking problem in Europe. There are also other organizations and stakeholders that are working on this issue, such as Esporg  and TAPA , which provide security certification schemes for parking locations. Moreover, there are digital solutions that help drivers and managers find, book and review parking locations.
It takes time
Ok then, we have truck parking, but is it a secure place to park? And why it should be secured? According to Trans Info, the theft of goods is becoming an increasingly serious problem in the European Union . A digital forwarder sennder.com describes that the visibility of shipments is crucial for customers from a business perspective . The need is also noticed by IRU. The IRU EU Advocacy Director Racula Marian said this second EU call for proposals for safe parking builds on last year’s call and is a unique opportunity for the sector. While we welcome much-needed financial support for the construction of new parking lots or the modernization of existing parking certain criteria must be closely inspected to ensure that the funds are put to the best possible use. For instance, the comprehensive infrastructure should be included in the scope of funding, the percentage of private funds required should be lowered, and an updated map of locations in need of secure truck parking must be created .
Worth adding that IRU provides a map of truck parking within the EU that can be used via PC  or as an app on mobile phone . Truck drivers can also rely on trans.eu in finding a free and safe truck parking spot via PC  and a mobile app  and truckparkingeurope.com . It works simply: an internet connection is needed and you put an origin and destination place of your trip. Then you see parking places on the road. You can also click on a parking location to see more details about that place. If you are a driver, you can use your smartphone to navigate. If you are a planner, you can use PC and send your driver the location of a parking to park there safely.
Will truck drivers be able to use all amenities and new parking next year? That is definitely too short a time to test, project, build and put them into use. Nevertheless, the EU and associate organizations have to be united, gather feedback from parking users and work on a common agreement that helps to solve our European problem.
Dawid Dajczak, logistics enthusiast, practitioner with 14 years of experience in TSL and university lecturer
 Promoting safe parking areas with the European Truck Parking Award (ETPA), https://www.iru.org/news-resources/newsroom/promoting-safe-parking-areas-european-truck-parking-award [Access: 21.06.2023].
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