Motorists complain about truckers who suddenly stop on the hard shoulder just before the border crossing and then, a minute later, rejoin the highway. The maneuvers regularly lead to dangerous situations.
“A Hungarian driver was standing on the emergency lane with his combination. He did not have any alarm lights, did not indicate that he wanted to turn left or anything. And ten meters away from me passing him, he suddenly pulled into the road,” says Peter Bastiaens at 1Limburg,
With a tug on the steering wheel, he managed to avoid an accident. But for the same money things go wrong, says Bastiaens, councilor in Venlo.
Bastiaens drives daily from Venlo to Kaldenkerken in Germany for his work. He is regularly confronted with stopping and accelerating trucks. Since February last year, truck drivers have had to adjust the country code in their trip registration when they cross a border. They can only do that by hand. So they have to stop their car.
The rules are strict, but according to Bastiaens it is no problem at all for truckers to first cross the border and then stop the car in a safe place, for example a parking lot, to convert the country code. According to him, Eastern European drivers in particular do not dare to do that. They are afraid of high fines and stop the car right in front of the border crossing.
Just after the introduction of the new rule, things went horribly wrong at Venlo last year. A motorist was killed when he collided with a stationary truck. Leon van den Beucken, fellow council member of Bastiaens. asked for measures at the time, but notes that little has changed since then. “Much more should be enforced, because it is a wonder that things don’t go wrong here much more often,” says Van den Beucken. “But of course it can’t always stay that way. Action is really needed now.”
A spokesman for Rijkswaterstaat recognizes the problem, but says he does not have many options to do anything about it. “The stopping moments are often so short that it is difficult for us to act. We are not allowed to issue fines ourselves. At most we can ask whether the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) or the police enforce it,” he says.
From August this year, new lorries must do their trip registration with a new type of tachograph. This can automatically adjust the country code via GPS, so that dangerous stops on the hard shoulder are also a thing of the past. But for existing trucks, this obligation only applies from 2025.
Bastiaens fears that this means that many drivers will continue to convert the code manually. He hopes they will do that more safely than now. “This is not in the interest of their own safety. It is certainly not in the interest of other road users. Because with a passenger car you always lose out if you collide with a truck.”