Calls for help are now coming in a weekly rhythm across all media in Germany: there are far too few parking spaces for trucks. According to a new study by the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt), there is a lack of at least 23,300 regular truck parking spaces on and along German motorways. The motorway service areas have been crammed full for years. Truck drivers often spend hours looking for a reasonable parking space without success. But which concepts could really provide relief on the motorways?
In order to make better use of the available space, the European Union (EU) is currently funding a pilot project for telematically controlled “compact parking”. The car park at the Jura West motorway service station (A3 near Velburg, towards Passau) has been converted for this purpose. Instead of 66 before, there are now 105 truck parking spaces on the same area. With compact parking, truck drivers choose a suitable parking space independently based on the remaining length available and the departure times offered by dynamic displays. The control of compact parking is therefore not based on the chronological sorting of vehicles (e.g. by actively assigning parking spaces or knowing the desired departure time of all trucks as in convoy parking), but dynamic displays with chronologically ascending departure times are controlled. The control of compact parking offers departure times which, if the truck drivers take them into account, result in the trucks being parked in chronological order. This prevents mutual blockades when driving on after the rest period. This means that the first row is occupied by those who leave at 5 a.m., for example, and then come vehicles that want to leave the rest area at 7 a.m., for example.
Column parking – proven system with parking rows
Column parking has been available since 2005 at the Montabaur rest stop on the A3 (northbound) and since 2009 at the Lohfeldener Rüssel car park (Kassel). Here, the trucks pass through a barrier and the drivers are then assigned a free parking space. In contrast to compact parking, the drivers here cannot decide for themselves when they want to leave again. If the row is full for a certain time, the next row is added, the length of the truck and the departure time is recorded by the electronic parking attendant and then the parking space is assigned. The calculated row is indicated by traffic lights. The remaining available length of the parking row is then measured by laser and reported to the system for the following trucks. Drivers who have driven into the wrong row are recognised as parking offenders. The system then calculates their misbehaviour when distributing further parking spaces. The trucks are lined up one behind the other like on a string of pearls and can leave on time one after the other – provided that no driver oversleeps and no truck breaks down.
Truck Tower – new concept without practical use
Another idea was presented in 2019 at the NUFAM commercial vehicle fair in Karlsruhe. The “Truck Tower” is a parking garage for trucks that is to be built on top of the existing parking areas. This should enable 87 trucks to be parked on an area for 30 trucks in the future. However, the system has not yet been implemented. But it could actually be worth a try.
No matter what ideas are tested. What is important is that solutions are found. After all, the annoying parking space is bad for truck drivers, too: In a study conducted by the automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen a few years ago, 40 percent of the truck drivers surveyed cited the parking space situation as a high stress factor in their everyday working lives. Especially since severe penalties are threatened if truck drivers do not observe their rest periods – even if it is because they cannot find a parking space.
Daniel Mahnken is a Senior Corporate Communications Manager at Saloodo!. As a qualified journalist, writing is practically in his blood. After studying sports journalism, he wanted to become Germany’s Next Sports Commentator, but then he discovered logistics and has been stuck with it ever since.