Frank Black, Opinion

Truck parking backlash

Truck parking backlash

In February word had been getting around about truck tyres being let down at the BP Truck Stop in Adelaide. This appeared to be a backlash by someone being disgruntled about local truck operators taking up valuable parking spots.

Some owners of these vehicles appear to be using the truck stop as a “depot”, with multiple trucks parked there for long stretches with the driver’s car left there during the day to hold the spot for when they return at night. Therefore, long distance drivers have been unable to find a park and use the facilities after long tiresome trips.

When I arrived in Adelaide over the Easter weekend, it looked like this had happened again with multiple trucks with front flat tyres. This is a sad state-of-affairs and while I can empathise with long distance drivers, being one myself and understand their frustration, these sorts of acts are not the answer.

The real fear here is the situation has the potential for escalation. One day its air being let out of tyres and the next it could be another form of vehicle sabotage, escalating to the point where the unthinkable happens.

When you step back from the infighting among drivers and look at the overarching issue it’s clear to me that there is a pressing need to acquire more areas for parking and managing fatigue within metropolitan areas. This will ease the frustrations of long haul and local drivers over the shortage of adequate rest stops.

While I’ve become aware of these issues around Adelaide, this is a problem that affects long distance drivers entering cities and large towns all-across Australia. In Brisbane, for instance, I’ve seen vehicles parked all over the place as I drive my truck into the city.

I think that more rest stops should be created on perimeters of the cities where they are close enough to distribution facilities and warehouses, but just far removed to neither impede traffic flow in busier and more heavily developed areas.

Exhausted drivers

Big oil companies, like BP, Caltex and Shell have their own business interests, which come before the needs of truck operators. We cannot, nor should we, rely on business operators to supply truck stops. It’s not within their remit to create more of them unless they can make a buck out of it.

This is why, for me, it keeps coming back to the governments and councils to build, run and maintain adequate truck stop facilities that meet the requirements of exhausted drivers who need a rest, a feed, and also to take care of any vehicle maintenance needs.

This doesn’t mean that local truck operators aren’t also looked after. We could ensure that areas could be sectioned off, with one section to host local operators for a nominal fee.

If operators cannot afford to either rent or purchase yard space to park their truck and from which to operate from, this to me, would suggest there is something wrong in the industry, specifically the low amount of remuneration.

This is, of course, part of a wider issue in the industry which will keep coming up, but I believe more that truck stops should be government funded due to the wider service the freight economy plays in our society, by and large.

It’s often said that trucks keep the country going and I think this phrase rings true to far greater extent than what people think.

Having well rested and well-resourced long-haul drivers is of course important in terms of reducing the death toll, but it’s also part and parcel of the goods economy that connects so many parts of our society and also employs so many workers.

Freight is a vital, and arguably under-appreciated, part of our economy and it’s in everyone’s interest that both long haul and local drivers that carry our valuable commodities and keep this country moving are well-rested and in good health.


FRANK BLACK has been a long distance owner-driver for more than 30 years. He is a former long-term owner-driver representative on the ATA Council.

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