F. Obermeier – a truck driver with heart and soul since 1982.
Do you have trouble finding a parking space on the highway in the evening?
On the highway yes. That's generally the case everywhere, regardless of the state.
How often do you have problems per week?
This always comes to a head on Thursday. There it is especially bad for me.
Where do you park when you can't find a parking spot on the highway?
I park normally when I find a parking space. I avoid motor courts. Because I have fixed customers, fixed tours, I know exactly where I can park in which industrial area, business park. Or also at the customer, that is also possible. My tour is then timed so that I manage to get to the parking lot that I want to reach. If I can park at the customers, I can use the toilets. If I have to park in an industrial area, of course not, then I don't have a toilet, then I have to stop somewhere first.
Why do you avoid car yards??
It is just too noisy there. I used to park there too, but not anymore. For example: You lie down at 21.00 o'clock there and want to sleep. The neighbor next to you has been standing for a long time and his break is over and he wants 22 parking spaces.00 o'clock drive off again. That's the first time you're awake again because he's smoking all over your cabin. Then you still have trucks in between – they have a broken parking heater in winter. They then leave their vehicle running all night so they don't freeze. The truck that left next to you has now vacated a spot. To 00.00 o'clock comes again one who parks there. He also lets his vehicle run for a long time before he falls asleep.
That's not possible at all! I want to sleep. Have my peace. If I park somewhere in an industrial area, I have my peace and quiet and I'm done. Maybe a car drives through, but that's about it. Generally there is silence. If I need to use the toilet, I do it during the day or at the customer's premises.
Now in Corona times, however, even that has become more difficult. Some customers say they can't let strangers in the washrooms anymore. Not all of them are customers, but some are. Most of the time I drive in the morning to a rest stop.
How does your dispatcher/carrier support you in finding a parking space?
Not at all. He does not need that either. I take care of it myself. Over the years I know exactly where I can stand and where I can go to the toilet. This is of course due to the fixed tours.
How often do you exceed your driving time because of the search for a parking space??
It does happen. If I do not manage to drive to the parking lot that I want to reach, that I have planned for myself. Because of a traffic jam or if it took a little longer with the last customer. Then that happens already times. This happens in the month maybe 1 x.
Have you ever received a warning for this?. Have to pay?
No, never before. There are currently also almost no controls. In the last 3-4 years I have not had a single control. It is similar with my colleagues. And if someone does get a fine for exceeding the time limit, our employer will pay it. Fines for speeding, however, he pays only conditionally. We have not yet received any fines for illegal parking, but we would have to pay them ourselves. I think my colleague had such a case some time ago. He was standing a few meters in the absolute no stopping zone. He paid for it himself.
The atmosphere among colleagues is quite good. We also talk about parking – with the boss sometimes, but what should he do?. The big problem is parking at night. It is especially bad at night. The trucks not only stand on the hard shoulder for a long time in front of the parking lot, but also close the parking lot exit in such a way that no one can drive off the parking lot. I've had it before. Then I had real difficulties to get down from the parking lot again. It's really bad at night. That's why I don't drive into any parking lot anymore. I don't know if I can get out of the parking lot again. How long should I wait before the parked trucks clear the exit again?? Especially in the Frankfurt area it is so bad. On the highway there is even the hard shoulder sometimes a bit wider. In case of emergency I stop there.
It is completely catastrophic on the A5 in the Frankfurt area, even though the road is already 3 lanes wide and well developed. The hard shoulders have already been widened, even with indentations for parked vehicles. This is absolutely absurd! Even trash cans were placed there! The trash cans were attached to posts. At the posts there is a sign: "Absolute no stopping"! Someone should explain to me what this is all about! In my opinion, this action has only one purpose: We don't have any parking spaces, but we have to do something so that the drivers can stop. Basically it's just a matter of if someone really parks there and something happens, then we're off the hook and we can also prosecute the driver for parking illegally! But what else can the drivers do?
Have you or one of your colleagues ever been mugged in a parking lot??
No. We have heard of it naturally. In Göttingen it was quite bad for a while. Even initiate with gas – the drivers woke up in the morning with a severe headache and the truck was completely cleared out. This also happens with motorhomes. Gas introduced, euthanized and then cleaned out.
The particularly unpleasant thing is that you know someone was in here while you were asleep.
What does the perfect truck parking lot look like to you??
This is a good question. When I am on the highway, there are already some perfectly good truck parking lots. For example Ob der Tauber. There is a service area with car parking and gas station. This is all downstairs. The trucks drive behind the rest area to a slightly higher area. And above – set back quite a bit from the highway – there is a large truck parking lot. That is super done. You can't hear any highway noise, nothing. I am of the opinion that far too little importance is attached to this when planning truck parking areas. The parking spaces for trucks on the freeways are mostly such that they park with the cab facing the freeway. This is how the parking lots are arranged. And most of the time the trucks are first in line. The cars are in the back. Why is that? That is not logical! The trucks should always be in the back so the drivers can sleep and the cars can be in the front. Most of the time, the car drivers only take short breaks, they very rarely stay overnight. And why do the trucks have to stand with the cab facing the highway? Exactly the opposite makes more sense! The cab must be away from the road – then the noise will already be less.
Then there are even already rest areas, noise barriers were built there. That is totally super. Behind it you have your peace. Unfortunately, there are far too few of them.
There are also far too few available and clean sanitary facilities at rest stops.
How interesting is a truck parking lot with a lounge for you and your colleagues? With paved barbecue corner, with table football, dart board, microwave, refrigerator, etc.
Yes, that would not be bad. But someone would have to take care of it again. Otherwise this will probably be destroyed and littered very quickly. There are too many idiots on the road. The sensible ones are dying out.
In which region in Germany is it particularly difficult to find a parking space??
Clearly in the whole agglomerations, in large cities. Throughout the Ruhr area it is particularly bad, Frankfurt area is also quite bad. A4 direction east – there it looks also badly. Mondays look particularly bad in Dresden. Trucks come to Dresden from the east all day long. Then stood close together as if lined up on a string of pearls. You haven't seen a traffic jam that long yet! Then no construction site is allowed to come! This is an absolute madness.
Do you have a proprietary app? What functions does this?
No, we don't have anything like that. Orders are processed by telephone. We are 3 drivers and 1 jumper, this works out very well for us.
Does your employer recommend truck parking for the night or does he leave the planning up to you??
He leaves it all to us.
How important are safety parking lots for you and for what reasons?
Security parking is not necessary for us, our cargo is not so valuable. And we have also the advantage that we do not drive with tarpaulin. A tarpaulin is slashed very quickly. Our vehicles all have a suitcase. You need some heavy equipment, for example a separating hunter, to open something. It is not so easy here. In the back there is even a massive stage in front of it, the doors are also not easy to open.
How important is family support to you?
Something like this is always very important. Without support I could not do the job at all.
Is it difficult for you to reconcile work and family life??
It is already difficult, that's true. Most of the time, everything remains with the partner. When you're younger, you see the problems quite differently. The older one becomes, the more problems arise then also.