Transport User Voice – February 2017 – Disruption in Dover – what do lorry drivers need?

30 January 2017

Disruption of cross-Channels ferries or the tunnel – for whatever reason – can have a severe impact on traffic in and around Dover and in other parts of Kent.

The Department for Transport, Highways England, the County Council, Dover District Council and the Police have been involved in managing the traffic. The Dover Traffic Assessment Project (known as Dover TAP) is the way the Port of Dover Police and Highways England control lorries from the A20 through the town centre to the Port. More dramatically, although used less frequently than Dover TAP, Operation Stack involves closing sections of the M20 to provide space for lorries to wait in a queue.

During Operation Stack, domestic journeys in Kent can be hugely impacted, whether by car or bus. But what about the lorry drivers who are caught up in the queues, sometimes for hours which can stretch to days? What are their needs? We decided to ask them to help feed their views into decision making.

Lorry drivers told us that, while queueing in Dover TAP, they would welcome better information, particularly about the likely length of their wait. They would prefer this information to be communicated by signs at the side of the road. This would manage their expectations, but also help them plan how to fulfil their legal requirement for tachograph breaks.

When the holdup is severe, there needs to be a better solution to Operation Stack, which clogs up the M20. The Government proposed a lorry holding area as one way of managing the large volumes of freight traffic that is being delayed crossing the Channel.

The needs of lorry drivers must be understood and incorporated into the design of this or any other facility. Our research found that their needs are mostly pretty functional – toilets, showers and good vehicle security.  As the length of time they’ll be there increases, drivers will need to have food and drink once they’ve consumed what they had with them.

Our findings are set out in A safe place to park: what lorry drivers want during disruption to cross-channel services. On 19 January we held a seminar in Dover to present our research and inspire discussion with the 30 participants about the user needs with the key bodies who manage or are affected by these issues. It was a valuable opportunity to ensure that lorry drivers’ views are really at the heart of the solution to this problem.

Click here to read the report.

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