Driver safety compromised at Calais rest areas

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French authorities are being urged to provide safer lorry parking to protect truck drivers from risk of attack.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has raised concern following the closure of four rest areas on the A16 and A26 by French motorway operator Sanef.

“Legally, drivers have no choice but to stop when it’s time to take a break and it’s vital that they can park in secure areas where their trucks will be safe.

“Closing these rest areas means that drivers will be forced to find alternative unsecured stopping points, which could put them at risk of migrants boarding their vehicles, potentially causing damage to their trucks, writing off their loads and leading to heavy and unnecessary fines for their employers,” said James Hookham, FTA chief executive.

The French Government cleared the Calais Jungle Camp, which had been home to up to 10,000 migrants, in October 2016 and built a new wall along the port approach road to protect drivers as they queue for the ferry.

Previously, FTA members had faced threats and violence, including burning blockades on the A16 and migrants breaking into the back of trucks and slashing curtain sides to gain access to truck heading to the UK.

Tony Henderson, who drives for Belfast-based Blair Transport, said the situation for drivers initially improved after the camp was dismantled.  However, last week he witnessed signs that migrants were returning to the port in significant numbers, such as sleeping bags left by the side of the road.

Hookham added: “We advise our members to sign up to the Border Force Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme which offers some protection if migrants are found on board vehicles, provided they have carried out all the recommended checks.”

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