MEPs vote for improving professional drivers’ safety and comfort

22 Apr 2014

220414_vote on drivers safety and comfort

On Tuesday 15 April, the European Parliament voted in plenary, first reading, on weights and dimensions for certain vehicles in circulation within the EU Internal Market. After nearly one year of campaigning, the ETF welcomes the EP’s decision to allow key improvements to the quality of drivers’ working conditions. Following the EP’s vote, the driver’s cab will have to comply with the legal health and safety requirements set by the EU legislation. A European Commission expert working group on aerodynamics is currently working on specific performance criteria with regards to safety and comfort of commercial vehicles over 3.5t.

ETF campaign on driver’s cab, part of our broader Respect for professional drivers’ campaign
In September 2013 the ETF started its campaign on better comfort and safety for professional drivers. Professional drivers spend minimum 9 hours daily in their cabins in prolonged sitting position with very limited possibility to adapt their posture. On long-haul journeys, they tend to spend from several days to several weeks in the cabin, driving but also taking their rest in the cabin. The inadequate size of the driver’s cab, the insufficient space between driver’s seat and couchettes, the lack of storage facilities make the cab a precarious working and living environment. Prolonged exposure to noise and vibration can
affect driver’s vision, coordination and overall ability to drive safely, as shown by a study conducted by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work “Occupational safety and health in the transport sector — An overview, 2011”.

In January – February 2014, the ETF ran a survey amongst its affiliated trade union organisations. More than 300 professional truck drivers from 7 EU Member States were interviewed and some 20 top safety and comfort problems were identified. The European Parliament position adopted in plenary last week addresses these shortages, while the European Commission proposal lays the basis for future clear features to improve the driver’s working and living environment.

The ETF has been working on the weights and dimensions dossier in close cooperation with Transport & Environment, the European Transport Safety Council, the European Cyclist Federation and Transport for London. Joint efforts by this group led to the European Parliament’s wide support for new safety features of the driver’s cab meant to protect other road users. The new shape of lorries is also supposed to be more aerodynamic and more energy efficient. Equally so, the MEPs voted in favour of fitting all new N2 and N3 vehicles, lorries with a maximum mass from 3.5 tonnes up to more than 12 tonnes, with on-board weighing systems which will allow a much better enforcement of the new ‘weights and dimensions’ directive, as well as for real-time information – also accessible for the driver – on the vehicle load.