Government should end motorway services’ parking ‘profiteering’

12.00 | 17 February 2015 | | 7 comments

Tired drivers should not have to pay to take a “life-saving rest” at motorway service stations, according to David Davies MP and the IAM.

Mr Davies has teamed up with the IAM to call on the Government to change its policy on the two-hour free parking limit, which service station operators have to comply with. 

The Monmouth MP, who previously worked in the haulage industry as a continental lorry driver, wants longer hours set before parking charges apply. He argues that drivers should be allowed to rest properly instead of opting to go back on the road to avoid having to pay hefty fees. 

Mr Davies said: “Charging large amounts of money to park could be increasing the risk of accidents caused by driver fatigue. This is profiteering plain and simple. There is no justification whatsoever for making a charge.

“Limiting parking time at motorway service stations is clearly contrary to the main reason for their existence – to provide rest stops.”

The IAM says that through its THINK! campaign the DfT suggests that almost 20% of accidents on major roads are sleep-related, and that sleep-related accidents are more likely than others to result in a fatality or serious injury.

The charity also says that DVSA data suggests one-fifth of accidents on motorways and other “monotonous roads” may be caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “Service areas are meant to be about safety and taking a break on a long boring journey.

“The two hour parking rule leaves many drivers confused and worried that they may inadvertently go over the time limit if they stop for a break, which is not a good recipe for safer motoring.”

Photo credit: © Copyright Scriniary and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


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    I agree. After my daughter who was feeling unwell..Stopped for tea & a snack..Fell asleep as it was a very hot day. Only to receive a £100 parking ticket a few weeks later. Disgusting.

    annette ives
    Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

    Not only are there high charges for parking there is no security either. The amount of lorries who have fuel stolen, loads stolen and curtains slashed is ridiculously high. The facilities are on a lot of occasions a disgrace and most services providing questionable food. One example where others could take note is Cairn Lodge on M74, clean and decent food and reasonable parking charges when compared to most.

    Stuart Woods Pontefract
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    I had no idea they only gave a 2 hour limit and was shocked when I was told this. We travel through Europe regularly stopping at service stations in France and Switzerland. They don’t charge drivers for staying longer than a certain time.

    In my mind if you have children or have had a long drive, need a toilet stop, food and a sleep, 2 hours isn’t long enough. It is forcing people to rush and move on when they might not be ready to.

    We drive through the night through Europe and sleep for a good few hours (more than two) usually at the French Service Stations. We don’t have the pressure of moving on or over sleeping. How typical of the UK to allow this profiteering culture to become the norm!

    We are over run with health and safety rules and regulations wherever we go in the UK but, when it comes to this, health and safety has gone out of the window in favour of a high turnover of customers and profit!

    S Spiteri
    Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

    To my mind there is something seriously wrong with the system that expects drivers to drive being overworked, over burdened and even over tired. However that cannot take into account what the employee does in his own time that could lead or add to his tiredness.

    That said, a short kip can work wonders to revitalise one’s cognitive abilities and I therefore err on the side of agreeing that sleep places should be allowed on Motorway Service stations.

    Bob craven Lancs…..Space is Safe Campaigner.
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    I’ve had two of these overstay charges and didn’t pay either. Appealed to POPLA both times and won on the grounds that the charges were not a Genuine Pre-Estimate of Loss and in one case the Private Parking Company did not have the authority to bring the case in their own name (no contract).

    Local councils need to enforce the planning permissions given at time the motorway services were constructed, in many cases planning was granted with the proviso that the parking was free. (Always worth checking)

    David Hickenbotham, Lincolnshire
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    The “trick” of omitting the fact a vehicle leaves and then re-enters a car park is a common one that private parking companies use. Sometimes they fall back on a “No Return Within” clause in the small print of a sign you pass on the entrance road. The fees that some of these PPCs send out if you have a minor overstay are extortionate, there is no other word for them (I’ve heard of 80 seconds = £100.00 or so…) but the biggest issue is the involvement of the DVLA in this, who make £2.50 for selling your details on (and that’s at a loss they say, so we are subsidising this racket!). Motorway Service Stations should allow longer rest breaks, if they have to charge it should be a small token charge. I can understand some control being needed but any charge made for not paying that charge should also be reasonable, not punitive.

    Clive Elsdon, County Durham
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    Indeed. The husband of a work colleague parked at a service station on the M42 in the morning, then again in the afternoon on the way back home. He was surprised to be penalised for parking in excess of 2 hours – he hadn’t – it seems that the camera didn’t detect his leaving and coming back – it assumed a continuous stay. Unfortunately, he had a company car – so the company paid the fine without referring to him first.

    Paul Biggs, Staffodshire
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

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