Road Safety in the EU: How Haulage Companies Can Contribute
Studies carried out over the past ten years have shown that haulage companies in Europe have shown an increasing concern with safety and security.
Ever since the advent of the European Union, Europe has been a more 'open-plan' space than ever before. For residents of member countries, crossing borders and relocating from one nation to another has become easier than ever before, often requiring no more than a valid passport and a clean criminal record. As a result, mobility within the Union has increased exponentially, both for individuals and for companies.
One of the main fields to benefit from this increase in mobility and ease of transport is haulage. Many haulage companies, previously confined by necessity to the limits of their own country of origin, have been able to expand internationally, often joining budding multi-national networks linking several of the countries within the Union. Nowadays, it is not at all uncommon to see a British lorry travelling across Spain on its way to Portugal, or a Dutch vehicle rumbling down a French country road. The European Union, in its ever-expanding capacity, has literally opened the roads for hauliers across Europe to pick up extra jobs.
As a result of this expansion, the regulating entities within the Union have been forced to revise and revamp some of the laws governing road travel and transport within the European space. Safety rules, for instance, have been given particular focus, and studies from the past decade show that this concern has extended to individual haulage companies within some of the member countries as well.
Indeed, since the turn of the millennium, the European Commission has been seen to put particular stock in road safety. The regulating entity's bid to reduce the number of road accidents in the European space to half by 2010 was proof of this, as was a subsequent study, conducted in 2004, relating to road safety laws and regulations within the European space.
Compliance and Non-compliance
It was in the course of this study that European entities discovered many haulage companies were not complying with European safety standards, either through a lack of willingness or simply a lack of awareness. Standards such as limit weights, circulation hours and safety equipment were often not being met, and what little information was accessible to the general public about these regulations was only made available against payment. As such, percentage statistics, such as the number of lorries involved in road accidents in the European space, could not be accurately determined.
Moving Forward in a Positive Way
As a way to address these faults and have a better understanding of road safety within the EU, the European Commission established a number of recommended criteria for European haulage companies to follow. Many of these concerned aspects that should be standard procedure but were being overlooked for economic or temporal constraints. They included things such as regular fleet check-ups, maintenance, cargo storage and securing methods, and driver recruitment and monitoring. While some of the constituent members of the EU already possessed guidelines and handbooks for some of these aspects, the Commission's guidelines contributed to ensure that they were spread all across the twenty-plus member states of the Union.
As a result of these regulations, an increasing number of freight companies across Europe have revised and tightened their security standards, leading to safer roads across the European space. This trend is expected to continue in years to come, as technological and mechanical advances make vehicles more secure and awareness programmes make drivers better educated.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry in the UK and Europe. It provides services for matching haulage companies with jobs in road transport and haulage work in the domestic and international markets. Over 3,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.