Snap survey reveals drivers’ concerns over EU mobility package

The introduction of the EU Mobility Package earlier this year has come with significant ramifications for the haulage industry across the UK and mainland Europe.

With drivers no longer able to take weekly rest periods inside their vehicles, hauliers are now obligated to source suitable accommodation for drivers on the road. They will also need to ensure these drivers return home once every four weeks – a significant change for international carriers.

Accordingly, many are speculating on the operational and commercial impact – particularly Eastern European hauliers, who have aggressively fought its introduction as well as labelled it protectionist and discriminatory.

But can an initiative designed to improve the health and wellbeing of drivers pose such a threat? And if so, what does this mean for the wider haulage industry? SNAP surveyed 350 Eastern European drivers to find out.

Key findings

TWO THIRDS (66.5%) OF DRIVERS IN EASTERN EUROPE ARE CONCERNED OVER THE IMPACT OF THE MOBILITY PACKAGE ON THEIR JOB SECURITY

A STAGGERING 86.6% OF DRIVERS FEEL THE MEASURES WILL CAUSE CARGO CRIME TO INCREASE DUE TO A RISE IN UNATTENDED VEHICLES

77% OF DRIVERS FEEL THE NEW MOBILITY PACKAGE REGULATIONS ARE LIKELY TO INCREASE CONGESTION AT PORTS AND BORDERS

WHILST 45.7% OF DRIVERS WOULD PREFER TO STAY IN ACCOMODATION RATHER THAN SLEEP IN THEIR CABS – ALMOST THREE QUARTERS (72.9%) ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE QUALITY OF AVAILABLE ACCOMODATION, AND 88% ARE CONCERNED ABOUT BEING LEFT OUT OF POCKET BY HAULIERS

JOB SECURITY

A very real concern, particularly among Eastern European markets, is whether the increased overheads and logistics caused by the Mobility Package will hurt their ability to compete. They claim that transport costs are likely to rise and that the package will leave Western countries with more favourable conditions in which to offer carrier services.

It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that two thirds (66.5%) of Eastern European drivers are concerned about the impact on their job security – with over a quarter (27.1%) ‘Very Concerned’.

66.5% OF EASTERN EUROPEAN DRIVERS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THEIR JOB SECURITY

This figure rises to 82% of drivers aged between 35 and 44 – a telling statistic given these individuals are perhaps more likely to have young families at home. Despite the package being aimed at improving working conditions, it is clear driver wellbeing extends beyond simply where drivers sleep.

In terms of industry impact, rising haulage costs – whether from Eastern European firms or existing use of Western hauliers – have the potential to impact demand industry-wide and may leave firms seeking cheaper sources of transit.

CARGO CRIME

A topic close to SNAP’s heart is the impact of increased cargo crime on the wellbeing and safety of drivers, as highlighted in our recent report. It is therefore concerning that 86.6% of drivers expect cargo crime to increase to some degree due to more cabs being left unattended.

86.6% OF DRIVERS EXPECT CARGO CRIME TO INCREASE TO SOME DEGREE DUE TO MORE CABS BEING LEFT UNATTENDED

Of this group, 40% feel an increase is ‘very likely’, with the most concerned tending to fall in the 35-44 age bracket (50%). This suggests concerns may well be informed by the experience of life on the road.

Whilst many drivers are not averse to the prospect of overnight accommodation in place of their vehicle cab, the ramifications of the Mobility Package are far-reaching. Could it add to the already-rising levels of cargo crime across the UK and Europe? And more importantly – does it reveal that drivers have been unfairly used as a deterrent?

REST IN CAB AND ACCOMODATION

Many drivers appear to welcome the idea – in theory – of taking weekly rest periods outside of the vehicle cab. Interestingly, however, preferences appear split over age lines.

Almost one quarter (24%) of 18-24-year-old drivers remain keen to take their rest period inside the cab, while over 80% of the 55+ age group approve of the new rules around accommodation.

24% OF 18-24 YEAR OLD DRIVERS REMAIN KEEN TO TAKE THEIR REST PERIOD INSIDE THE CAB

80% OF THE 55+ AGE GROUP APPROVE OF THE NEW RULES AROUND ACCOMMODATION

The quality of the accommodation provided is a concern for 72.9% of drivers. This is mostly felt in two age groups – younger drivers and those aged 55+. Female drivers are less concerned than their male counterparts on this issue.

While 45.7% of drivers said they would prefer to stay in accommodation, such as a roadside hotel, 37.4% said sleeping in their cabs remains their preferred option on long hauls. This demonstrates that while regulations might be made with good intentions, it is the driver and their individual preferences that need to be considered – and they must be thought of as individuals rather than a single group.

45.7% OF DRIVERS SAID THEY WOULD PREFER TO STAY IN ACCOMODATION

37.4% OF DRIVERS SAID SLEEPING IN THEIR CABS REMAINS THEIR PREFERRED OPTION OF LONG HAULS

TRUCK PARKING

Finding suitable – and secure – truck parking as a result of the new regulations is a major concern for more than one-third of drivers (37.7%).

37.7% OF DRIVERS VOICED A MAJOR CONCERN IN FINDING SUITABLE SAFE & SECURE TRUCK PARKING

Whilst reasons behind these concerns vary – from additional travel to and from the cab (some 80% are concerned about the distance between the truck park and their allocated accommodation) to wasted hours and security concerns – it is clear that accommodation alone will do little to foster driver wellbeing if there is insufficient secure truck parking to accompany it. With the parking crisis across the UK and mainland Europe well documented, steps will need to be taken for real progress to be seen.

“With the survey demonstrating high levels of concern from drivers around leaving their cabs for long periods of time, it is vital that steps are taken to address the lack of secure parking available across Europe.” Says SNAP Managing Director, Mark Garner.

“SNAP continues working hard to increase the level of secure parking in Europe, but it is an issue requiring broader attention to ensure that attempts to improve wellbeing do not inadvertently impact safety and security.”

BORDER DELAYS

In a somewhat ironic twist, the ‘Mobility’ Package may end up preventing just that, say, drivers. 77% of those surveyed said they felt it was either likely or highly likely that congestion would increase at ports and borders, with long-haul drivers needing to return home more regularly than before.

77% OF THOSE SURVEYED SAID THEY FELT IT WAS EITHER LIKELY OR HIGHLY LIKELY THAT CONGESTION WOULD INCREASE AT PORTS AND BORDERS

Alongside the expected congestion in and around ports caused by Brexit, these additional delays could put significant strain on access routes in and out of the UK and hamper the timely transit of goods.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS

While our survey reveals that the issues of concern for drivers are generally practical, the potential for increased environmental impact from the Mobility Package is also a consideration for around one-quarter of drivers (23.1%).

23.1% OF DRIVERS HAVE CONSIDERED THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF THE MOBILITY PACKAGE

The requirement for vehicles to return to their ‘home’ country regularly is among several factors that have been estimated will generate at least 3 million tonnes of additional CO2 emissions per year in the EU. At a time when many nations around the world are seeking to dramatically reduce their emissions.

Drivers aged 25-34 showed the most concern in this field; however, drivers aged under 25 were 36% less concerned about the environment than cargo theft – perhaps showing the degree to which this issue permeates the industry.

As vital as it is to protect driver welfare, it is notable that many drivers themselves are questioning whether the Mobility Package does so sustainably – an issue that many Eastern European countries have raised in their concerns.

CORONAVIRUS

In a pre-vaccine climate, Covid-19 is an understandable issue for many drivers. Just 11% said they were not concerned about the increased risk of exposure from having to stay in public accommodation – with 68% saying they were concerned or very concerned.

68% OF DRIVERS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE INCREASED RISK OF EXPOSURE TO COVID-19 FROM HAVING TO STAY IN PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION

Age brings an understandable split here, as those aged 34-44 (again, a bracket more likely to have young families), are the most concerned. Interestingly, over 55s were revealed to be the least concerned age group.

Vaccine or no, concerns such as these are likely to be a very real consideration for hauliers for some time. As such, sourcing ‘safe’ accommodation is likely to remain a complex subject – particularly if occupancy is reduced due to social distancing measures.

“While the Mobility Package has been created out of good intentions, there can sometimes be a disconnect between ideas on paper and their practical implementation.” Says Mark Garner.

“To avoid this, it is vital that a balance is found by consulting with those who will be directly affected. In this case, it means understanding that drivers are individuals with a range of preferences on the way they carry out their work, and implementing changes that are too broad or inflexible could end up having a negative impact on many.”