'We are on the verge of a supply collapse,” BGL board spokesman Dirk Engelhardt tells the WELT. In 2010, the last year before the abolition of compulsory military service, around 17,800 people undertook driver training with the German armed forces. In the meantime, only 15,000 new professional drivers enter the market each year, and 30,000 drivers retire each year for reasons of age. This leaves us 330,000 truck drivers short at the end of the decade. That means 50% of the trucks cannot be filled. Engelhardt also blames poor working conditions for the driver shortage.
German rest areas are in a state of emergency from 5 p.m. onwards. That is when 90% of the truck parking spaces are already occupied. Those who arrive later stand on side strips, entrances and exits of parking lots, drive into the industrial park or to other places that are not designated truck parking spaces. After 4-5 attempts daily to find a parking space, drivers often have no other choice when their driving time is up. During these attempts and repeated braking and acceleration of the 40t vehicles, massive amounts of diesel are consumed and often the driving time is exceeded, resulting in fines. During a police check in March 2020 in Schleswig-Holstein, 222 driving time violations were found among 378 drivers checked.
Sustainable transport is being called for, and not just by the Greens. But shifting more traffic to the railways is not at all easy to implement today. Trucks are the biggest CO2 emitters in Europe and contribute massively to the negative CO2 balance. If the parking search traffic can be avoided by reserving a parking space, then 16kg of CO2 emissions are saved per truck every day. This was calculated by the well-known Prof. Dr. Jochen Baier of the Steinbeis Institute. With 50,000 drivers looking for a parking space every day, 290,000 tons of Co2 could therefore be saved every year if these spaces were compensated for. By comparison, an average household consumes about 11 t Co2 per year.