A proposal from the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) to the IRU to make it easier for drivers to enter the industry is making progress. While the document below is very technical and truck orientated, it has positive implications for the bus and coach industry.
DRIVERS’ LICENCES (FOR INFORMATION)
Item V.4 on the provisional agenda CLTM/BR7391 of the IRU Goods Transport Liaison Committee meeting held on 4 March 2021 by video conference
State of play of the EU consultations on the upcoming revision of the EU Driving Licence Directive and IRU’s advocacy on the minimum age of professional drivers.
For background details, including on IRU’s advocacy activities so far and the preparations for the European Commission consultation on the EU Driving Licence Directive (Directive (EU) 2006/126/EC), see documents BR7304 and BR7375.
II IRU POSITION
By way of reminder, IRU’s position (already agreed upon by CTP and CLTM in March 2020) was slightly amended at a written consultation with CTP and CLTM last Autumn to take on board the proposal by the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA). This envisages adding electric delivery bikes and small electric urban delivery vehicles to driving licence categories AM and A, and allowing professional truck drivers to start training before the age of 18 so that they can take the exam and start driving as soon as they turn 18.
The core elements of IRU’s position ahead of the potential revision of the EU Driving Licence Directive, which IRU strongly supports, can therefore be summarised as follows:
- Clarify fully and unambiguously the conditions under which 18-year-old professional truck drivers can drive freight transport vehicles in both national and international traffic.
- Remove distance limitations and align minimum driver age limits for bus and coach drivers with those applicable to truck drivers.
- Reduce the minimum age for trained young professional road freight transport drivers to 17 on condition that they are duly accompanied by a competent and experienced professional driver.
- Adopt an EU list of third countries for which the official driver CPCs are recognised as meeting EU professional driver training standards. Should it not be possible to establish an EU list, advocate the possibility for EU Member States to have the flexibility to draw up such lists at the national level.
- Create a genuine D1 driving licence allowing drivers to drive passenger transport vehicles of 21+1 seats (currently 16+1).
- Enable road transport companies to access available public/official databases providing information on temporary or definitive loss/withdrawal of professional driving licences so that they can verify the validity of their own drivers’ driving licences.
- Enable 17-year-olds to start vocational training as professional truck drivers so that they can take the exam and begin driving as soon as they turn 18.
- Adapt the EU driving licence categories A and AM to include electric cargo bikes and small electric delivery vans, which are increasingly used in green urban deliveries.
III. IRU SUBMISSION
In its submission to the EC consultation on 18 January 2021, the IRU insisted that the main elements of IRU’s aforementioned position should be implemented, while at the same time providing input on other related issues raised in the consultation, such as driver training and the impact of the technological revolution.
IV RESULTS OF THE CAS DISCUSSION
At the meeting of IRU’s Commission on Social Affairs (CAS), which was held on 3 February 2021, members discussed the issue and raised several additional elements that may need to be considered ahead of the EC proposal (expected in 2022) and its discussion by the two EU co-legislators, namely:
- the need to potentially broaden, within the upcoming revision of the EU Driving Licence Directive, the scope of the category B driving licence to include (increasingly greener delivery) vehicles of up to 5.5 tonnes, and
- the importance of addressing how driving licences are issued/renewed, which in some cases might result in lengthy administrative processes, and in some cases could even be interrupted (i.e. during a pandemic or when taking annual leave, etc.), thus creating a barrier to employing professional drivers or a missed opportunity for job seekers.
V RECENT ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS
In response to a parliamentary question raised by MEP Marinescu (PPE, RO) on the minimum driving age for vehicles in categories C and C + E, EU Transport Commissioner Vălean gave a formal answer (9 February 2021) on behalf of the European Commission that emphases the following aspects:
- Directive 2003/59 and Directive 2006/126 were jointly amended by Directive 2018/645, in particular as regards the minimum age provisions. The purpose of amending the minimum age was to clarify the application of minimum age requirements for drivers who have been trained as professional drivers.
- In accordance with Article 5 (2) of Directive 2003/59, the minimum age for driving vehicles in categories C and C + E is set at 18, provided that the driver holds a certificate of competence issued on the basis of an initial qualification obtained in accordance with the provisions of Article 6 (1), namely including 280 hours of training or a comprehensive practical and theoretical test.
- For drivers following an accelerated initial qualification in accordance with Article 6 (2), which includes only 120 hours of training, the minimum age for vehicles in categories C and C + E is set at 21.
- The deadline for transposing this directive expired on 23 May 2020. However, delays in the transposition have so far prevented some Member States from applying the new age requirements. The Commission will check the correct transposition of the new provisions in the coming months.
VI NEXT STEPS
Following the public consultation on the EU Driving Licence Directive, it is expected that the European Commission services will now analyse the results and organise a workshop to present and discuss those results with key stakeholders.
The EC proposal for revising the EU Driving Licence Directive is expected to be drawn up in the late second half of 2021, with the aim of submitting it to the European Parliament and the Council in 2022.
Members shall be informed about the details regarding these expected next steps as soon as they become available from the EC services.
In the meantime, IRU members are now invited to get in touch with their own competent authorities and Members of the European Parliament, share with them the core industry requests, and prepare the ground for positive acceptance of the industry’s proposals before and during the legislative process.