European Commission’s proposal for more flexibility in driving and rest time rules puts road safety on the line

24 May 2023

The European Commission’s proposal to revise the driving and rest time rules for occasional passenger transport could be a nail in the coffin for road passenger transport and road safety.

Published today, the proposed revision aims to introduce more flexibility in the occasional passenger transport sector regarding driving and rest time.

The ETF previously warned the European Commission that this could worsen the already existing issues of driver shortage and driver fatigue in the industry, ultimately posing a threat to the safety of drivers and passengers alike.

The Commission’s proposals include:

  • Extension of the ’12-day derogation’ to occasional domestic passenger transport, which basically means 12 consecutive days of driving without any weekly rest whatsoever in both domestic and international trips. The enforcement of the 12-day derogation is already problematic, with inspectors reporting that there are major difficulties in controlling this derogation. It is regrettable that the Commission did not take the necessary steps to address the existing problems.
  • The possibility for operators to split daily breaks into three periods of a minimum of 15 minutes. This will result in bus and coach drivers not having sufficient time for recovery after long hours of driving or enough time to relax, have a snack and refresh;
  • The possibility to postpone daily rest by 1 or 2 hours, depending on the total daily driving period.

The proposals as set out above will negatively affect the sector, leading to:

  • Less road safety
  • Increased driver shortage
  • More driver fatigue
  • Worse working conditions in an industry already notorious for its poor attractiveness.

It should be noted that the Mobility Package’s existing driving and rest time rules have the potential to guarantee a decent work environment in road passenger transport. The revision will undermine the Mobility Package’s goal of improving working conditions in the road industry and will threaten road safety.

The ETF’s survey of over 1300 bus and coach drivers across Europe found that 80% of drivers would consider leaving the industry if the European Commission revisits the rules. This, coupled with a study on driver fatigue in 2021, which revealed that chronic fatigue is the norm for professional drivers across Europe, highlights the urgency of prioritizing drivers’ well-being and road safety.

The ETF Road Section will continue to take action and liaise with relevant partners and stakeholders in order to prevent dangerous levels of flexibilization in occasional passenger transport. We call on the Parliament and the Council to support us in protecting the working conditions of bus and coach drivers.