ETF calls on EU policy makers to ACT NOW and END driver fatigue in commercial road transport

16 Nov 2020

ETF research on driver fatigue uncovers irrefutable hard evidence requiring urgent action

On the occasion of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims which took place yesterday, ETF revoices its commitment to making road safety a reality and underlines that well-rested drivers majorly contribute to this goal. That’s why we took a step forward by publishing the preliminary results of our survey of truck, bus, and coach drivers which uncovered their direct experiences, their views on the causes of fatigue, its consequences and the most effective countermeasures.

“There is no example of good practice in the sector. I think it is the only industry that doesn’t have a program for the problem and that has to do with the fact that the customers and the bosses don’t care.” 

— Belgian truck driver

In the scope of an ETF project on fatigue in bus, coach and truck drivers, Trade Unions and Drivers for Safer Roads in Europe, around 2,800 drivers across Europe stated their experiences which uncovered the urgent need for policy measures to tackle the ‘chronic disease’ of driver fatigue in commercial road transport.

Road safety is key to our professional drivers. Moving freight and passengers safely across Europe is becoming increasingly difficult in an environment where work and rest quality, traffic and driving conditions for professional drivers continue to worsen.

It’s time for EU and national policy makers to take driver fatigue seriously.

Previous research into driver fatigue failed to highlight the real cause: poor working conditions. Our recent survey shows that this aspect merits the full attention of policy makers and employers.

The ETF’s findings point at drivers’ working conditions as the main source of fatigue in commercial transport.

The top twelve causes of fatigue identified by the ETF have been experienced by 72% to 85% of our survey respondents! Among these, bad quality of sleep, not enough time for sleep, interrupted rest and consecutive long working days without time off.

“In the nine hours of rest, I have to clean the bus, get home etc … I only get four to five hours of sleep.” 

— Dutch bus/coach driver

Our initial survey results have revealed key fatigue prevention measures, among them:

  • Enforce the law consistently – this means tight implementation and inspection of the new driving and rest time rules adopted under the Mobility Package, and inflexible driving and rest time rules in bus & coach
  • Enact stricter laws on driving and rest time
  • Institute reasonable work schedules that avoid or limit: night driving, compressed or irregular work schedules, short daily rest periods, short notice of shifts.

Driver fatigue needs to be a key part of all future European Commission processes of planning and preparing legal proposals, and a key element in EU Strategies and targets linked to road safety. We call on EU policy makers to act in accordance without further delay.

Discover our full teaser of findings from the ETF survey on driver fatigue.  A full report will be published online in June 2021.

Next steps:

ETF is organising two workshops on driver fatigue in November and December 2020, at which the sensitive question of falling asleep at the wheel will be among the topics discussed.

With financial support from the European Union

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