English - Nooteboom Giants on the Road Magazine English - Nr. 5 - 2018 - Page 17

REGULATIONS The driver of a heavy transport drives during the night in Belgium, during the day in France, during the night in Germany and during the day in the Netherlands. And then in Belgium you also have to deal with the curfews. Another prob- lem is the congested parking lots. It’s not easy to respect the driving times and rest periods all the time. The parking problem causes another problem too: if a heavy transport crosses the border into Belgium, the escort is supposed to check the exemption and the vehicle. Should that take place on the hard shoulder then, if there is no place to park? Definitely not, because we want to prevent unsafe situations but at the moment there is no exception in the regulations that would permit the drive to go and find a safe place to park.” DIGITAL REGISTRATION ■  Map of the 90-tonnes and 120-tonnes network Gert: “All escorted transports must be registered digitally. In theory this is an excellent system. The exemption is valid for 2 or 4 months. During that period the transport operator is free to choose a day or several days on which the transport take place. Some transports are registered with us more than once. If we want to go and check one of them we are sometimes told the transport is delayed or has been carried out the previous day. We hope to be able to follow the transports via track & trace in a few years from now. That would prevent us from travelling to a location to perform checks and have a wasted journey. At the moment it often like looking for a needle in a haystack. On some days dozens of transports are registered to take place but only a few of them are actually carried out. Upholding the system can only succeed if there is a fair chance of catching the offenders.” DRIVERS Gert: “Anyone with a valid driving licence can go on the road with an abnormal transport. It used to be quite an honour to be the driver of a large combi- nation. That is changing. The driver has to comply with so many regulations in the various countries that he is bound to do something wrong. But we still come across companies who hardly ever do anything wrong. Other companies – very well-known ones too – used to be caught time and time again, but they have cleaned up their act. There is one category we keep tabs on: the companies that systematically evade the rules. These are companies that factor in the fines. For those companies we apply the rules as rigorously as possible. And in practice that means that a combination may be parked up for few weeks waiting for the correct exemption.” WINDMILL TRANSPORT Gert: “Transports of windmill components from and to the Belgian seaports are increasing all the time. In the past we have stopped a transport with a length of nearly 80 metres, travelling from Denmark to Ostend. In Germany and the Netherlands this transport can without problems travel on the motorways, but in Belgium the route leads along secondary roads if the total mass of the transport exceeds 44 tonnes. We invited the transport operator and a representative of the windmill manufacturer to come and have a chat. We would prefer to see these transports shipped over water, but transporting them over the road is more flexible, cheaper and the load needs to be transferred fewer times so there’s less risk of damage.” Belgium is in a transitional state. The i ssuing of exemptions is done via the various regions, but they still have to get used to their new tasks. The rules for escorts have changed but the new regulations will probably not start to function properly until well into 2018. And the road network in Belgium has not kept up with the rapid progress of technology. These days a heavy low-loader that can carry more than 100 tonnes is no exception, but many Belgian roads cannot cope with this kind of weight. In daily practice many transports will make a detour via the Netherlands or Germany. Gert Bervoets: “The regions understand the problems of the trans- port operators. Wherever possible the regulations will be improved during the next few years. And we would also like to introduce a registration system for vehicles from abroad, like they have in the Netherlands. Solving the problems with the road network will take much longer. In areas around the seaports many bridges have already been renovated, but further inland there is still a lot of work to be done.” ■ 17