The shelves in supermarkets and warehouses across Europe would remain empty without long-distance truck drivers. They do a back-breaking job under immense time pressure on often congested roads. To improve the working conditions of those affected, the EU wants drivers to be able to spend rest periods outside their trucks in adequate accommodation in the future. To achieve this, appropriate accommodation is needed; modern, well-equipped and affordable. The Düsseldorf-based company Roatel offers the solution.
Safety on European roads largely depends on the roadworthiness of drivers. This plays a particularly important role for professional drivers in long-distance transport. Traffic density has increased steadily in recent decades. Fatigue, road works and congested roads increase the risk of accidents. However, there are few, if any, adequate facilities for "restoring fitness to drive" along the German highway network. But: well-rested drivers steer their vehicles more safely than their overtired, poorly rested colleagues.
In 2020, new regulations were enacted at the European level through the so-called "Mobility Package". The regulations aim to improve the working conditions of professional drivers. This includes driving times and rest periods, and also outlines specific rules for both. Especially the requirement that the weekly rest period of 45 consecutive hours must be spent outside the driver's cab has attracted considerable attention.
To enable truck drivers to spend their rest periods in suitable accommodation, the existing infrastructure along the freeways must be massively expanded. Every day, up to 120,000 trucks park along German highways so that drivers can take their rest periods. At present, there is only a very limited number of suitable accommodations. The company Roatel, founded in Düsseldorf in 2019, offers the solution to the problem with its mobile container hotels. In collaboration with a German architecture firm, a smart and affordable accommodation was created. The bases are converted 45'High Cube pallet width transport containers, so-called 45'HCPW containers. Each box is divided into 4 individual rooms of 7.5 square meters each. The rooms are modern, bright and attractively furnished with a bed, toilet & shower and a bench with a table. In addition to plenty of electrical outlets, they provide WIFI, air conditioning and TV entertainment. The overnight stay costs € 49 and can be booked via an app. Check-in and check-out are done contact-free using a smartphone.
A SWR report presents the container hotel in a video (German): Zum Video
The implementation of European regulations into national law is progressing steadily. In order to increase the pressure on those involved, primarily truck drivers in long-distance transport and the decision-makers within the transport companies, the regulations must find their way into the national fine catalogs. Even more important, however, is the regular and comprehensive monitoring of compliance with the regulations on European roads in order to provide sufficient "motivation" for rule-compliant behavior. Already today, in important countries of international transit traffic such as Germany or Belgium, severe fines can be imposed, ranging from € 1,800 to € 2,500. The inventors of Roatel are not worried, noting that they have hit the bull's eye with their idea either way. Because in addition to truckers, mechanics and business people are currently using the smart and inexpensive overnight accommodation alternative on German freeways. All signs point to growth as Roatel has encountered a demand that is much more extensive than first assumed.