The best truck driver rest stops as chosen by drivers Blog image - A row of parked up Trucks

The best truck driver rest stops as chosen by drivers

Truck driver rest stops and HGV parking are once again a hot topic amongst HGV Drivers. We believe that healthy food options shouldn't come at a premium and that access to clean, hygienic facilities is a basic human right, so how does the UK perform when faced with the question, what are the best truck driver rest stops? 

UK Service Station availability

There are 111 service stations in the UK and four major motorway service operators: Moto, Roadchef, Welcome Break and Extra, plus the smaller operators, Westmorland, Stop24 and Euro Garages. The website Motorway Services Online provides a handy list of motorway service areas along with their operators and their average satisfaction ratings.

When you're piloting a moving vehicle down a busy motorway at high speeds, needing a comfort break is a distraction that is highly likely to impair your driving skill, but if you add driving hour restrictions and delivery deadlines to that you soon realise how stressful being a HGV Driver can be. 

Knowing where the best truck driver rest stops are and familiarising yourself with the distances between them, is a great idea so you can plan your route effectively based on your driving times and avoid having to pull over in a lay-by without access to any facilities. 

Longest distances between service stations on single stretches of UK motorway

  • M25, Cobham to South Mimms - 43 miles
  • M4, Reading to Membury - 39 miles
  • M4, Membury to Chippenham - 36 miles
  • M1, Oval to Leicester Forest East - 35 miles
  • M11, Birchanger to Cambridge - 33 miles
  • M1, Woodall to Woolley Edge - 32 miles
  • M8, Paisley to Harthill - 31.5 miles
  • M40, Beaconsfield to Wheatley - 29 miles
  • M3, Winchester to Fleet - 29 miles
  • M5, Sedgemoor to Gordano - 29 miles
  • M6, Corley to Hilton Park - 29 miles
  • M62, Birch to Hartshead Moor - 28 miles
  • M6, Tebay to Southwaite - 27 miles
  • M6, Lymm to Charnock Richard - 24 miles
  • M20, Maidstone to Hythe - 23 miles

While it doesn't constitute a single stretch of motorway, driving the M40 at Warwick to the M54 on the way to Telford would see you racking up a total of 63 service station free miles, so this is one particularly bladder busting route we thought worth mentioning.

Which UK service stations rank as the best truck driver rest stops? 

In a recent survey, we asked you the Blue Arrow driving community to vote for your favourite rest stops and every year Transport Focus conduct a survey asking customers about their experience at the 111 motorway services in England. 

In the 2019 survey, 11,600 customers had their say on facilities such as toilets, staffing, food and drink. Of the 111 service stations:

  • 33 received a satisfaction score of 95% or above
  • 97% of visitors rated the friendliness and helpfulness of staff in service stations as good
  • 89% of visitors were satisfied with the cleanliness of the toilets in service stations
  • 59% of visitors rated the food and drink in service stations as good value for money

Best service stations 

  • Norton Canes, M6
  • Heston Westbound, M4
  • Gloucester Southbound, M5
  • Stafford Northbound, M6
  • South Mimms, M25

Overall, motorway service operators across the country performed well with 90% of visitors satisfied (nationally) with the experience offered to them however, with just 59% of visitors rating the food or drink they bought to eat in the services as value for money, this is no doubt a key area for improvement if satisfaction rates are to rise any further.

Worst service stations

  • Severn View, M48
  • Burtonwood, M62
  • Cullompton, M5
  • Frankly Southbound, M5
  • Charnock Richard Southbound, M6

The biggest drop in overall satisfaction ratings was amongst HGV Drivers. As the lowest satisfaction rate across all driver groups there was clearly more that needed to be done to provide good facilities for HGV Drivers. 

UK Service Stations - Access to facilities during lockdown and beyond

If our service stations still continue to fall short of expectations it is more important than ever that distribution centres and delivery points are accommodating of HGV Drivers upon arrival. Truckers Toilets UK (TTUK) agree and have campaigned for many years to improve toilet facilities for lorry drivers on the road network and at distribution centres. 

After a long-running campaign, HSE guidance for access to facilities was finally amended in 2017 making it a legal requirement for employers in control of non-domestic premises to allow people who are not their employees to use their premises to access toilets and washing facilities. 

Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 paragraph 127 states “When deliveries and collections are made, loading and unloading areas should have a safe area for drivers to wait that allows them to rest between driving shifts, especially if they may be waiting for several hours, with easy and safe access to toilet, washing and refreshment facilities and shelter in case of bad weather”.

After such a long and hard won fight for HGV Driver rights it was a real shame to hear the Road Haulage Association, an industry body supporting those in the sector, were inundated with calls from HGV Drivers stating that once again they were being denied their fundamental rights during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) enforced lockdown. 

On 23 March, when lockdown was announced, Supermac's, KFC, Wild Bean Cafe and Burger King all announced the closure of their stores and service station operators confirmed that their shops were instead going to be their main food offering. 

HGV Drivers began to make their concerns known, reporting that they had already experienced being denied access to toilet and washing facilities at service stations and when making deliveries. Unite the Union acted in support of HGV Drivers by demanding that the Department for Transport ensure that lorry drivers are not denied access to commercial toilets and washing facilities.

It is understandable that companies would seek to protect their own employees by limiting their exposure to anyone visiting the site, especially at the beginning on the lockdown period when very little was known about the virus. However, if drivers are unable to access facilities and wash their hands on route and then are being forced to wait in crammed, crowded designated waiting areas at distribution centres it is not only the drivers and the staff who are at risk but also everyone they come into proximity with along the way. 

Highways England and the Department for Transport began communicating with all British service station operators about what facilities were available and most service stations confirmed they were trying to provide petrol stations, toilets and showers, a shop and/or grocery store alongside reduced HGV parking prices.

In the last week of April, Moto began a new campaign aimed towards HGV drivers offering free hot meals (from their WHSmith stores) to those who had paid for HGV parking, under the slogan 'Hot Meals Matter'. The free HGV parking allowance was increased, and drivers were offered free coffee from Costa Express. RoadChef soon followed suit with similar offers including a free coffee voucher for HGV Drivers. 

By the end of May, most service areas in England had some-sort of food brand open and as throughout July 2020 it is understood that more food and shopping outlets, along with hotels will be re-opening to the public. 

With the relaxation of lockdown and clearer government guidance being provided, it is expected that HGV Drivers will find that they are once again being provided open access to facilities but just in case there are remaining issues, Public Health England (PHE) issued a letter that can be carried by HGV Drivers and shown to those who refuse. The letter makes it clear that access to toilets should not be stopped as a result of COVID-19;

"This letter is to confirm that there is no public health reason to deny access to toilet facilities to freight drivers (or others) who do not have symptoms of cough or high temperature. At this time, it is particularly important that everyone increases the frequency of hand washing, so access to toilet facilities is particularly important.

Please facilitate freight drivers and others to continue to access toilet facilities and handwashing facilities.”

You can find and download the PHE letter here.

If you find that you are still refused access to amenities, your employer must contact the company concerned and remind them of their responsibility. If the conversation does not resolve the issue, you are advised to report the matter to the Health & Safety Executive. 

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