Britain’s motorway service areas have been condemned as being ‘woefully poor’. As drivers prepare for trips to visit friends and family over the long Easter weekend, the motorway service stations many will have to stop at have been called ‘inadequate’, ‘filthy’ and ‘ill-maintained’.
The Road Haulage Association’s chief executive, Richard Burnett, claims the shocking state of the nation’s ‘woefully poor’ motorway service areas needs to be made an election issue. His organisation, which represents Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers, says parking in a layby is frequently preferable to visiting a motorway service area for its members.
Burnett said: “While others use the roads to get to work, for HGV drivers, the roads ARE their place of work. Like any employee, the conditions under which they work are of critical importance and they have the right to expect a good standard. The facilities provided at the vast majority of motorway service areas fall woefully short of what can even be considered to be an acceptable standard.
“At a time when our industry is facing a massive driver shortage, every issue that affects recruitment is vitally important. Who would want to take a job knowing that the basics, for example toilet facilities, are in a shocking state of repair? Professional drivers, quite rightly, object to filthy and ill-maintained washing and other hygiene facilities.”
A recent survey suggests the majority of regular drivers only use motorway service areas for going to the toilet and stretching their legs. Researcher Viewsbank canvassed 1030 driver. It claims the high price of fuel put 84 per cent of drivers off buying anything else at motorway services. And it said 60 per cent of drivers never buy motorway fuel because it’s too expensive.
Motorway service areas have also been criticised for making drivers pay if they park for longer than two hours. Monmouth MP David Davies and the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) believe parking should be free indefinitely so drivers can rest properly. Davies said: “Charging large amounts of money to park could be increasing the risk of accidents caused by driver fatigue. This is profiteering, plain and simple. There is no justification whatsoever for making a charge. It is bad enough that motorists pay over the odds to buy a coffee or snack at a service station without the worry of paying vast charges for taking 40 winks.”
Richard Burnett from the Road Haulage Association added: “There can be no excuse for poor standards. We welcome the government plan to set up ‘design panels’ of architects and experts to look at the quality of motorway service areas. This must also include secure parking and facilities for HGV drivers. We will be pleased to work with them to bring about the change that is so desperately needed.”