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Interview with Rainer Bernickel

“Only a healthy driver drives safely”

The DocStop Association for Europeans was formed in 2007 to improve on-the-road medical care for all professional bus and lorry drivers on trans-European routes. An interview with Rainer Bernickel, founder of DocStop and holder of the German Order of Merit.

Rainer Bernickel, founder of DocStop

What is behind the idea of DocStop?

We started the project to prevent serious accidents occurring due to driving with health problems or self-medicating. A preliminary survey of the target group in Germany revealed that over 85% of drivers complained of a lack of medical care in the workplace. Workplace conditions could also be improved. In 2013 we won the German Safety at Work prize, and later the LEO award in the category “Person of the year 2014” in the transport industry.

What does the current DocStop network look like?

The number of doctors supporting it has risen by 100% compared with 2012. The network has 700 doctors, clinics and hospitals as its partners - a rising trend. We also have partners from industry throughout Europe, and organisations and institutions which are involved in traffic safety. Everyone gets on board the initiative Doctors who participate in DocStop have declared themselves willing to treat drivers who come to their practices as patients quickly without long waiting times.

What are the most frequent reasons for visiting a doctor?

Tooth ache, stomach or bowel problems, back pain, headache, sleeping problems, minor injuries or colds. Throughout Germany, 400 people in the target groups take up the offer of medical care on the road provided by DocStop.

How should an HGV driver react if he wants to seek medical treatment whilst on the road?

First of all, call the central number +49 1805/11 20 24, and then let himself be guided. All calls to the ADAC Truck Service Hotline are answered in the service centre, and employees there can immediately tell the caller where the nearest DocStop doctor to his location is, with a telephone number and advice on where to park his truck. The ADAC Truck Service Centre can be contacted 365 days a year, 24 hours per day.

How is the service charged for?

DocStop is free of charge for all users. It is not necessary to be a member of the association, and there are no contributions. DocStop together with many competent partners uses its best endeavours to offer the group of professional HGV drivers highly targeted and easily delivered medical care along their driving routes. The medical costs are paid for with the health card, charged via a European health insurance card or paid in cash and settled up with the funding agencies in the different countries.

How far away are partnership practices and hospitals from the DocStop sites?

Every doctor’s practice or hospital can be reached mostly at a maximum distance of four kilometres from the respective DocStop sites, which are located on truck service stations or motorway exits. For HGV drivers this means short routes, quick connections, the minimum time lost in dispatching planning, optimum assistance, greater personal safety, the promotion of good health and a more humane working environment.

Does DocStop replace the emergency number for HGV drivers then?

In medical emergencies, number 112 should always be dialled. A DocStop contact does not replace a necessary visit to a doctor, and is only for the purpose of quick and specifically targeted recovery of the driver’s health problems on the road, whether on local or long-distance routes. Our intention is to provide medical treatment in acute individual cases on the road. Only a healthy driver can drive safely, and endanger neither himself nor other drivers on the road. Serious traffic accidents caused by health problems will be avoided, and all those on the road, as well as the driver, safeguarded from coming to harm.

What are your goals for the future?

We plan not only to expand our medical network throughout Europe, but also to raise the level of awareness about it. We are also looking for further co-operation agreements with new partners and sponsors, to enable us to improve the standard continuously. HGV drivers are an important guarantor of our mobile and networked society. With DocStop we will continue to contribute in future to making the dayto- day lives of this professional group easier, and therefore to improving their performance.

About DocStop

In 2013 DocStop won the German Safety at Work prize, and later the LEO award in the category “Person of the year 2014” in the transport industry. Since 2015 the Nagel-Group has become the official no.1 partner of DocStop. More information about DocStop are available here: www.docstoponline.eu.

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