Today, the European Commission published its proposal to revise the Directive on Driving Licences (Directive 2006/126/EC). With its revision, the Commission aims to improve road safety and facilitate free movement in the EU. However, it misses the mark with the derogation allowing Member States to issue driving licenses for trucks to applicants who have reached 17 years of age through an accompanied driving scheme.
The Commission, alongside some industry players, embrace this measure as a solution to driver shortage. However, putting young drivers behind the wheel from the age of 17 will not address the root causes of the shortage. The reason why young people do not enter this profession is due to poor working conditions and low wages. For example, an ETF survey in 2021 found that 60% of truck drivers said they had to drive while fatigued regularly, which is directly linked to their notoriously poor working conditions.
Too much emphasis on ‘attracting’ new workers to the profession obscures the need to retain the current workforce, which is continuing to diminish due to people leaving the sector. Lowering the minimum age exacerbates road safety risks which would be significantly magnified by the difficulties and the responsibilities of professional driving.
We call on policymakers to address the root causes of driver shortage instead of taking measures that will only further endanger road transport safety.