Over 1000 bus and coach drivers ready to walk out if European Commission revisits driving and rest time rules
Could Europe’s driver shortage get a whole lot worse? A 2023 European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) survey reached out to over 1300 bus and coach drivers across Europe and found that 80% of drivers would consider leaving the industry if the European Commission moved forward with its proposal to revise driving and rest time rules in coach tourism services.
The European Commission’s current policy options under consideration for the revision of occasional passenger transport (coach tourism services), such as 12 consecutive days of driving with no day off and 45-minute breaks split into 15 minutes or less, have been met with dismay from the driver community.
Responding to the possibility of 12 consecutive days of driving, 80% of drivers indicated it would be difficult or almost impossible to guarantee the safety of their passengers. Additionally, 83% of drivers replied that this would add to fatigue and work-related stress, while 74% confirmed it would impact their health.
The proposed idea of splitting daily breaks into smaller slots of 15 minutes or less was also met with concern, with 85% of drivers indicating it would increase fatigue, work pressure and stress. Over 70% indicated there would be no time to have a snack or even use the sanitary facilities.
The ETF study on driver fatigue conducted in 2021 revealed that 66% of bus and coach drivers had to drive while fatigued on a regular basis, highlighting the poor working conditions faced by drivers in the industry.
Road passenger transport is already hurdling towards a shortage of drivers with its current workforce ageing out and no one to take their place due to the job’s unattractive conditions.
The proposed revision of driving and rest time rules in coach tourism could be a nail in the coffin for road passenger transport and road safety.
The Mobility Package’s current driving and rest time rules have the potential to guarantee a decent work environment in road passenger transport, and there is no reason to revise these rules in the first place. The ETF urges the European Commission to reconsider its proposal and prioritise the safety of passengers and drivers alike.
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About the survey: Beginning 2023, ETF conducted its survey via a questionnaire in six different languages (English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, and German) shared through its affiliated road transport unions with their members (professional bus and coach drivers). In less than a month, a total of 1391 professional drivers from across the EU (and Norway) completed the questionnaire.