EU road transport association addresses driver shortage, CO2 and coach tourism

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Following a special anniversary event held by world road transport association IRU celebrating 50 years of permanent representation to the EU, the organisation’s EU passenger and goods transport members updated the sector’s positions on CO2 emissions, driver shortages, and coach drivers’ rest time rules.

IRU members agreed on industry-wide recommendations to improve the European Commission’s proposal to amend EU rules on CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles, which has been on the legislators’ table since mid-February 2023. IRU Director, EU Advocacy, Raluca Marian said, “Whereas this legislation primarily targets vehicle manufacturers, it will also significantly impact the flexibility of commercial operations in the near and medium future. The road transport industry needs to have technological options and be able to match their specific operational needs with the most suitable solution, including beyond 2040. Improvements are needed on the legislation’s scope, targets, and classification of buses and coaches, as well as the access it will grant to vehicle CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data.”

IRU members reconfirmed their position on the EU Driving Licence Directive, which could contribute considerably to addressing driver shortages in commercial road goods and passenger transport. One of IRU’s main calls is to lower the minimum driving age, which is essential to attracting a large pool of school-leavers to the profession.

“We can’t continue like this. We have to close the school-to-wheel gap. It’s harmful to both the economy and young jobseekers looking to kick-start their professional careers,” explained Raluca. As such, the industry is also pushing politicians to create an EU mechanism to recognise and exchange third-country drivers’ professional driving licences and certificates for professional competence (CPC).

The other position agreed by IRU members targets the current unfit coach tourism driving and rest time rules. The Commission said it acknowledges that the occasional passenger transport sector needs specific legislation, as it has different characteristics compared with freight and regular passenger transport. Coach tourism drivers travel longer distances at the beginning and end of their tours but have shorter driving times during tourist activities.

“As it stands, coach tourism drivers are subject to the same driving and rest time provisions as truck drivers who transport goods, which simply makes no sense,” highlighted Raluca. “IRU invites EU legislators to capitalise on this ground-breaking proposal by the European Commission to align the schedule of coach tourism drivers with passengers’ expectations.”