The lack of professional drivers calls for desperate measures, the EU proposes that children sit behind the wheel

trucks

According to new European rules, even 17-year-olds will be able to drive trucks accompanied by a professional driver!? When they turn 18 and receive a certificate of professional competence, they will be able to drive on their own. With the same certificate, they will be able to drive a smaller bus with a maximum of 16 passengers

The lack of professional truck or bus drivers to be compensated by minors who would sit behind the wheel, excited the European as well as the domestic experts. They believe that this would be a hasty move, which will seriously endanger road safety. Experienced instructors from Macedonian driving schools brief that more and more often it happens to them that people who do not know how to "turn a key in the lock" sit in their car, let alone drive some monstrosity of a truck.

According to new European rules, even 17-year-olds will be able to drive trucks accompanied by a professional driver!? When they turn 18 and receive a certificate of professional competence, they will be able to drive on their own. With the same certificate, they will be able to drive a smaller bus with a maximum of 16 passengers. All this because of the chronic shortage of drivers across Europe, reported H1 Croatia.

As a precaution, European institutions are also proposing that inexperienced drivers undergo a two-year probationary period, during which they will face tougher penalties for speeding and drinking. They also require mandatory controls when a driver's license is issued or renewed. According to the analyzes of the International Transport Organization, by 2025, more than 2 million drivers will retire in the world.

This shortage, as well as the weak interest in this sector among young people, will create another problem for transport companies, warns Biljana Muratovska, general secretary of "Makam Trans". Jonche Apostolovski from the Association of Independent Instructors, Drivers and Driving Schools, told "Sloboden Pechat" that from the point of view of increased work, they should support this decision, but from the point of view of road safety, they consider it hasty.

- It is clear to us that the main reason for taking such a step is the huge lack of professional drivers. But imagine the problem such a decision will bring if a minor gets a "C" category driver's license, which means that he will be able to drive a truck from 3,5 to 40 tons, which is dangerous empty, let alone full of cargo - he explains Apostolovski.

The Croatian Union of Drivers also warned that young and inexperienced drivers can be a serious threat on the roads.

"You are not an adult at 17 in Croatia. So who would be responsible if something happened? First of all, the law needs to be changed so that people become adults at the age of 17", is worried Goran Husinec, forensic expert for road traffic.

Driving instructor Ivan Španić for Dnevnik.hr. says the turning arc and dimensions of large trucks, which are much larger than passenger cars, cause problems even for experienced drivers. Today, however, more and more candidates want to get behind the wheel as soon as possible, says Španić.

"Previously, this profession was performed mainly by people who had predispositions for it. "Now, due to the financial conditions, many people who really don't like it, become professional drivers," added Španić.

But there are fewer and fewer of them. Dnevnik.hr collected data for 2021 and 2023 - for category C1, i.e. for trucks, 14.000 permits were issued in Croatia last year, less than the two previous years. For category D1, i.e. buses with up to 16 passengers, the number of permits increased in two years, but only by 408.

This is not the right solution for unions either.

"We train drivers, and they then go to other EU countries, where their conditions are better, especially the salary," claims Miljenko Gočin from the Croatian Union of Drivers. On average, drivers receive around 800 euros, but the union explains that together with daily wages, they sometimes reach up to 1.500 euros.

What does the new draft regulation of the European Transport Committee cover?

The European Parliament's Transport Committee (TRAN), an expert committee on road transport issues, announced major reforms at the end of last year. The reform would include harmonized and easier recognition of driver's licenses originating from third countries, as well as the possibility for EU member states to lower the minimum age for bus drivers to 18, with no limit on the distance they can drive. Until now, that limit was 50 kilometers.

Back in 2006, the European Union recommended a age limit of 21 for truck drivers and 24 for bus drivers. But in recent years, the road transport industry, which suffers from a severe shortage of staff, has detected lowering the age limit for drivers as a cheap and quick way to solve the problem. Industry lobbying soon proved successful, and some EU countries have since lowered the age to 18.

What the road transport associations want is for such rules to apply across Europe.

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