Special delivery: recognising the value of lorry drivers

03 March 2022

Many of us probably don’t give much thought to how our goods are transported or delivered to us. At least not beyond the driver that hands us our parcels and shopping. We expect shelves to be stocked with everything we need, or deliveries to be the next day or even the same day. Panic or frustration can ensue when this doesn’t happen.

In the UK, more than 80 per cent of goods are moved by road and even those that aren’t will likely require road haulage to complete journeys.

The recent shortages we’ve seen during the pandemic, including fuel, have highlighted some of the key issues the freight sector faces. Although these problems aren’t new, it will have been the first time many of us have really felt the impact.

Still, lorry drivers often don’t get the recognition they deserve – they are key workers who often remain invisible. When almost everywhere was in lockdown, lorry drivers worked tirelessly to ensure everything kept moving to where it was needed, from food to medical supplies and much else.

The road network and facilities are some drivers’ home for part of the week. Despite this, lorry drivers often report poor treatment. There were multiple accounts of them having no access to hot food or even toilet facilities.

The job itself can be tough. Drivers spend most of their time alone. It is a sedentary lifestyle and there’s a lot of waiting around on the job. It can also be a real challenge eating healthily. Security is a big issue and reports of theft are common, often while drivers are in the lorry. This experience from drivers isn’t unique to the UK. You can draw several similarities from these two reports of the lives of truck drivers, one in England and the other in the US.

The issues reported are similar to those found in our research. Most roadside facilities lack the capacity for HGVs. They do not meet the needs of lorry drivers, and they do not allow them to rest properly before getting back behind the wheel. Drivers want better capacity, cleanliness, security and a home-cooked meal.

We want to help improve the experience for lorry drivers. And to do that we are currently piloting a new survey that will benchmark lorry drivers’ satisfaction with using roadside facilities on England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads and explore what they need from them in more depth. We will publish the results as soon as we can and work to ensure it leads to making the lives of lorry drivers easier – just as they do our own.

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