Bus & coach: ETF & major EU organisations join efforts to defend driver, passenger and road user safety
The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), the European Federation Road Traffic Victims (FEVR) and the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), three major EU organisations representing safety interests of road users and passengers, met with the ETF on Monday 12 February to discuss risks relating to the business lobby in road passenger transport. As it’s no longer a secret: bus & coach operators lobby heavily at the EU level for a laxer, allegedly “customer-friendly”, driving and rest time regime for the sector.
Most worrying, Brussels shows itself responsive to this lobby. And since most of the EU road transport legislation is now open to revision, some in the EU Institutions are ready to take the industry demands on board.
The ETF, ECF, ETSC and FEVR are ready to act to tip the balance in favour of road safety and at the Monday’s meeting they already started discussing how to make their joint concerns heard. Too much is at stake! Working 16 hours per day, driving 12 days without any day off, skipping hours and days of rest drivers are entitled to under the current regulation, all this will lead to no improvement in safety records for the bus and coach transport.
In the past 12 years since the adoption of Regulation 561/2006 – the EU legal act setting maximum driving times and minimum rest periods for drivers – traffic conditions, workload, levels of work-related stress have worsened. One wonders then how can the EU go for more flexible rules while pretending there is no harm to safety???
This in the context where no EU-wide driver fatigue study has been carried out for the past 15 years. And national studies – if any – are out of reach. Driver fatigue is simply not seductive enough in EU policy-making circles. It is an uncomfortable topic for those wanting more flexibility and weaker rules.
The Monday meeting is far from being some stand-alone initiative. This is part of a wider ETF plan to include: developing a counter-proposal with much stricter rules, to feed into the revision process of the driving and rest time rules; building alliances with EU and national organisations with a strong interest in road safety; engaging in actions aimed to inform the wide public about the possible changes in driving and rest time rules and their potential impact on safety! And it’s all happening this spring!
“Safety first” is key to building a sustainable road passenger transport in Europe!