Interview with Luis Garcia, OnTurtle Business Development Manager
Guaranteeing rest for professional drivers while protecting the safety of the loads they transport has always been a priority for OnTurtle and should also be a priority at the institutional level in Europe. Considering that lorry traffic engaged in freight transport in Europe is 400,000, the EC estimated in 2019 that at least 100,000 more secure truck parking spaces are needed. “Not being able to park trucks in safe areas exposes drivers and causes millions of dollars in losses every year for transportation companies,” says Luis García Jiménez, Business Development Manager at OnTurtle. “We are talking about an economic problem, but also about people,” he concludes. OnTurtle welcomes the fact that the European Commission has approved the basic principles for the creation of an EU regulation to regularise and standardise lorry rest and parking areas in the EU, although they warn that this commitment is only a first step.
- What is the state of the international parking network in Europe?
The international parking network in Europe is insufficient. According to the European Commission’s own estimates in 2019, there would be a shortage of around 100,000 safe parking spaces for trucks in Europe. To this figure we should add the number of uncertified places.
In 2020, the European Parliament gave its final approval to the Mobility Package. One of the measures it envisaged is that relating to regular weekly rest periods. It is explicitly forbidden that such rest can be accomplished in the lorry cab. Transport companies are exposed to losses if they have no choice but to park in unsafe or poorly regulated areas. Lorry robberies are carried out by organised criminal groups that endanger not only the cargo but also the physical integrity of the drivers. We are talking about an economic problem, but also about people.
- Is this a situation that is repeated equally throughout all EU countries?
There are currently five parking facilities in Spain certified by the European Secure Parking Organisation (ESPORG). The OnTurtle’s truck parking lot in La Jonquera is one of five certified by ESPORG, and the only one certified Level 2 by the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA).
The situation is no different in other European countries. Europe and its member states are aware of the situation and the annual loss figures affecting road transport companies. There is a clear lack of awareness, but also of commitment.
- What role do organisations such as ESPORG or TAPA play at the European or global level and what role does OnTurtle play in them?
OnTurtle is an excellence-oriented company committed to its customers. In the absence of a response from institutions such as the European Union, it decided to join ESPORG and TAPA, two organisations committed to the safety and welfare of international transport companies. OnTurtle is a member of both.
ESPORG and TAPA have been able to respond to the needs of the sector by encouraging investment in safe parking areas lorries and creating a standard to provide them with optimum levels of safety and comfort.
They provide up-to-date information on incidents throughout Europe, training courses for professionals in the sector, and they also organise annual congresses to discuss developments and problems. Solutions are proposed and work is being done to get the European Commission involved.
- Is it also necessary to set community standards for safe lorry parking at the institutional level?
Cargo theft is one of the main problems facing the road transport sector. And it’s not just on the road, these are incidents that also occur in unclassified parking facilities. A solution must be found and the institutions are the ones that must first respond. This is why it is important for the European Commission to work on a standard, linked to an audit scheme, that will allow transport companies to identify the level of safety and comfort of lorry parking areas. This is news that we at OnTurtle have been celebrating. Ensuring our professional drivers get rest, while keeping the loads safe, is one of our priorities.
- Will this recognition be enough?
If this regulation goes ahead, it will be a first step towards focussing on the lack of safe parking facilities in Europe, something that the freight transport sector has been demanding for some time. From here, the European Commission should continue to work to provide solutions. For example, financing the creation of secure parking facilities with European funds.
- What requirements must a lorry parking facility have in order to be considered safe?
A truck parking facility can be considered safe when it is properly fenced, with camera control both day and night and with qualified personnel capable of responding to any incident. Currently, the certifications of entities such as TAPA or ESPORG at the technical and service level are based on the Standard for Safe and Secure Truck Parking Areas. These specifications detail the requirements that a parking area must meet in order to receive this type of certification.
Obviously, there are other more specific requirements that, as they are met, increase the security of the area: 24-hour surveillance, restricted access to the premises..
- In fact, OnTurtle was one of the pioneers in developing a security system in its service area at La Jonquera. Why did we decide to do this?
OnTurtle is committed to meeting the real needs of its customers by providing solutions. We are committed to safety and quality of service to ensure your peace of mind. All of the above inspires us to work to provide you with an optimal and, above all, safe service and parking area.
- What mechanisms do you have in place today at your La Jonquera lorry parking facilities to ensure that drivers get their rest and their loads kept safe?
We are currently ESPORG Gold certified and TAPA Level 2 certified. To achieve these categories, the Standard for Safe and Secure Truck Parking Areas demands a set of requirements that not only concern safety, but also the service. The parking area is fenced, with a day and night camera circuit, and entry and exit control for both lorries and pedestrians. Personnel have received specific training on safe parking areas and safety protocols have been established. Beyond that, services such as separate showers for men and women, restaurants, wifi, garbage bins, among others, are available to our customers.
- Is safety a requirement when adding new parking areas to the company’s international network?
There is such a lack of secure parking areas, especially ones that are linked to a service station, that not all the parking areas we introduce to our network have secure parking for lorries. We always look for networks with strategically located parking areas, with as many services as possible. We are working on expanding our LNG network and keeping up to date with all the changes that will affect the sector in the run-up to Green Deal 2050.
We hope that in the near future, safe parking areas will be not only a requirement, but a reality. And that we can offer a powerful, secure parking network in Europe to our customers.
- Is it a determining factor for customers to choose to work with OnTurtle?
Proposing global solutions to our clients while generating trust is. The proximity of our professional team and our commitment are also decisive. And it is clear that safety is a factor that our customers take into account when choosing us.
- Can we advance future developments in this regard?
We are currently working with industry platforms that will enable us to offer, in the short and medium term, a network of truck parking facilities in Europe. This network will include certified areas, or those currently available that are considered safe. As the situation improves with new investments, we will add new secure areas to our network.
One of our values is to drive innovation and change management. We are committed every day as a team to give customers our best.