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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety

Professional drivers

Tiredness and speeding are common causes of accidents among drivers of lorries, coaches and company cars. Road accidents are the leading cause of work-related death in industrialised countries. Most recent Thematic Report on Professional Drivers.

European Parliament votes to modernise training for professional drivers

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The European Parliament voted on 13 March 2018 to adopt rules improving the training requirements for professional drivers.

Parliament adopted a proposal drafted by the European Commission. The aim is to improve road safety standards through better rules on professional drivers’ training, and specifically to:

  • modernise the training by prioritising road safety, including, for example, protecting vulnerable road users and using driver assistance systems; optimising fuel consumption; and introducing new technology, such as e-learning options;
  • clarify the rules on minimum ages set out in, respectively, the Professional Drivers Directive and EU rules on driving licences;
  • ensure that training taken in an EU country other than the one where the person concerned lives is recognised in their country of residence; and
  • make the Directive clearer and easier to understand.

Parliament also decided to establish an electronic exchange system for drivers’ qualifications. This helps EU countries to recognise training taken in any other EU country. It is also useful to enforcement authorities.

Following Parliament’s vote, the Council is set to formally adopt the new Directive in June 2018.

Directive 2003/59/EC lays down requirements for the initial driving qualification and periodic in-service training of professional drivers holding a C or D licence. It requires drivers to prove their initial qualification by taking either

  • training and a theory test, or
  • a theory and practical test, without any compulsory training beforehand.

Then bus and lorry drivers EU-wide are required to update and refresh their professional skills by undergoing periodic in-service training every 5 years.

Training and educating drivers properly is a priority among road safety policies. Well trained drivers are safer drivers.

Driving time

Tiredness is a significant factor in some 20% of crashes involving heavy commercial vehicles.

EU laws cap time at the wheel for professional drivers where part or all of the journey is in more than one EU country.

Driving time should not exceed 9 hours a day or 56 hours a week. After 4½ hours, drivers must take a break of at least 45 minutes.

Transporting dangerous goods

For the transport of dangerous goods by road EU legislation lays down rules notably on

  • classification of dangerous substances and articles;
  • training of persons involved in the transport;
  • packaging;
  • labelling;
  • vehicles carrying them.

The rules applied in the EU are harmonised with those applied internationally (European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road under the auspices of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe).

Navigation assistance

The EU has also funded a route-guidance and driver-support system for heavy goods vehicles, under the Heavyroute project.

This system will help drivers find the most efficient route in terms of time, road suitability, bridge and tunnel networks (not all bridges are strong enough to support heavy vehicles), fuel consumption and environmental costs.


Overloading by heavy trucks is not just unsafe, it also leads to higher road-maintenance costs and attendant traffic disruption.

The EU-funded REMOVE project has examined ways of enforcing rules on overloading by using weigh-in-motion technology.

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