ETF and partners push for Enhanced Van Driver Training

19 Oct 2023

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), the International Federation of Pedestrians (IFP), and the European Cyclists Federation (ECF) unite in a powerful call to Members of the European Parliament (MEP) to support enhanced driver training for professional van drivers and the revision of the EU Driving Licence Directive.

The European Commission’s proposal to amend Directive 2006/126 represents a pivotal opportunity to strengthen road safety across the European Union, professionalize the road transport sector, raise standards and working conditions for drivers, and contribute to achieving the ambitious goal of reducing road deaths and injuries by 50% by 2030. Vans are an integral part of the European road network, but they are also associated with a significant share of road accidents. In 2018, an alarming 11% of all road fatalities, totaling 2630 lives lost, resulted from crashes involving Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs). Most concerning is the fact that pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists accounted for 39% of these tragic deaths.

In Europe, the logistics industry, which is marked by growing LGV usage, employs millions of people. The ETF has already called for standards in the logistics and delivery sector. Policymakers must ensure access to proper training, qualifications, rigorous health and safety standards, and decent working conditions. The ETF further raised concerns about long and non-transparent sub-contracting chains which undermine the safety and working conditions of drivers; as well as outsourcing, agency work, and bogus self-employment

The recent report from the European Transport Safety Council underscores the growing usage of LGVs due to rising demand, particularly in urban areas, nighttime deliveries, and the surge in online shopping. Unfortunately, this increased demand has led to poor working conditions for LGV drivers, creating safety hazards on our roads.

One critical issue is the disparity in regulations between LGVs weighing less than 3.5 tonnes and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs). While HGV operators and drivers adhere to stringent requirements, the majority of LGV fleets operate under lower standards, posing safety risks.

To enhance road safety, it is imperative that all professional LGV drivers receive comprehensive training on key aspects such as safe loading and unloading, cargo securing, fatigue prevention, journey planning, and strict adherence to traffic rules. Research cited in the ETSC report highlights concerning trends such as seatbelt non-compliance and mobile phone distractions among drivers using LGVs for work.

Therefore, we strongly urge the extension of current requirements for bus and truck drivers, including professional driver training (Certificates of Professional Competence – CPCs), to encompass a new category for van drivers. This would ensure that all van drivers, including those misclassified as self-employed or owner-drivers, receive the necessary training to enhance road safety.

In line with the European Parliament rapporteur’s proposal, we recommend the establishment of a B+ category with a separate requirement for CPC-type training for N1 vehicles used for professional purposes.

In our commitment to road safety, we express our dissent regarding the European Commission’s proposal to increase the permissible mass of a ‘B’ category vehicle from 3.5 to 4.25 tonnes. Research from the VIAS institute in Belgium has shown that larger and more powerful vehicles have a detrimental impact on road safety, particularly for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

We firmly believe that more can be done to improve safety standards for LGV fleets, aligning them with the broader freight and passenger transport sector. This approach will professionalize the entire sector and establish a cohesive set of measures for all professional transport types, including the installation of tachographs to combat driver fatigue.

In conclusion, we urge Members of the European Parliament to consider our recommendations seriously as they deliberate on the proposed amendments to the EU Driving Licence Directive. Together, we can enhance road safety, protect vulnerable road users, and create a safer and more professional transport sector.