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EU road transport shapes its driver shortage, CO₂ and coach tourism stance
EU | Brussels

EU road transport shapes its driver shortage, CO₂ and coach tourism stance

4 Jul 2023 · People, Prosperity, Environment

IRU members have agreed on new positions to tackle driver shortages, decarbonise realistically, and give coach drivers’ rest time rules suited to their responsibilities.

Following IRU’s special anniversary event last week 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.

Reducing CO₂ emissions

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.”

In May, the European Commission also put the road user charging legislation (the Eurovignette Directive) back on the table with a proposal to include trailers and semi-trailers in the CO₂ rate variation framework. 

IRU’s position seeks to ensure that the new proposal will result in lower infrastructure charges when energy-efficient trailers and semi-trailers are used, acting as an incentive to further invest in such vehicles. 

“One of the key aspects to fixing the proposal is to speed up its implementation timeline, allowing transport operators to benefit from better toll rates when energy-efficient trailers and semi-trailers are used,” said Raluca Marian.

“The 2030 target proposed by the Commission is just too far away and denies our industry the possibility to decarbonise with its existing fleet,” she added.

Tackling driver shortages

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 Marian.

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).

Adapting coach rest times

The other position agreed by IRU members targets the current unfit coach tourism driving and rest time rules.

The Commission 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 Marian.

“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,” she added.

IRU will continue to work on these files with its members and European authorities to shape them in the interest of EU citizens, communities, businesses and the economy.