Access to toilets, lighting and potable water at truck rest areas is a requirement, not a desirable asset, for truck drivers, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) argues.
The group is calling for major changes to the guidelines for truck rest areas, ahead of the release of a research report into the issue, prepared by Austroads.
Austroads has developed a set of new guidelines for the design of heavy vehicle rest areas (HVRAs) following a series of surveys of drivers at rest stops and online, completed earlier this year.
According to the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad), the guidelines outline a table of facilities to be considered for each class of formal HVRA (ranked from 1-5) and provide schematics of how both formal and informal HVRAs can be laid out.
But ATA CEO Ben Maguire says access to toilets, lighting and water are a "basic human right" and should not be listed as being optional at any rest facility.
"It’s not nice to have: it is a fundamental requirement and obligation for road providers and government," Maguire says.
"There should be a strong set of guidelines, an independent audit on the current state of rest areas, and then a funded national plan from governments to address the gaps."
The association has also called for governments to take the effort to provide truck rest areas every 20km, as well as to enforce a rule that cars, caravans and other vehicles not park in the designated truck section of any rest area.
The ATA specifically suggests consulting with female drivers on the provision of toilet facilities at some rest areas, and developing guidelines to prevent road agencies from temporarily closing rest areas to store roadworks materials.
In its submission to Austroads, NatRoad calls on local communities to provide rest stop facilities – including toilets, showers, fuel and food – and for local governments to make information about suitable parking areas publicly available.
"Where using a town as a rest facility is not supported by the local government, road managers should place a HVRA on the approach or departure side of the town to fulfil the desired HVRA spacing along the freight route," NatRoad says.
"We also suggested the town should not be mentioned when referring to HVRAs to avoid drivers thinking that it provides a HVRA opportunity."
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