IRU - International Road Transport Union

02/26/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/26/2024 05:11

Our young bus and coach drivers are safe and Europe’s future

A young bus or coach driver is often viewed - mistakenly - as being unsafe. But with the training that they undergo, they become skilled and reliable professional drivers on par with their older colleagues, safely performing a vital societal service. In this article, Meyering Verkehrsbetriebe's Bus & Coach Business Manager and Trainer explains just why we need to revisit our perception of young bus and coach drivers.

Are young professional bus and coach drivers unsafe? No.

To start, it's important to point out that buses and coaches are the safest mode of passenger transport.

Now, let's dispel the myth that young drivers are unsafe.

In my country, Germany, research on driver responsibility in accidents involving buses found that younger drivers, aged 18 to 20, have the best safety record. This is not the case for private passenger car drivers.

Why is that? Because young drivers and young professional drivers are not the same. For young professional drivers, it's their career, their livelihood. They are fully motivated and trained for hundreds of hours to drive prudently to maintain their source of income.

What's more, we need them. So why all the scrutiny towards our young bus and coach drivers?

Unemployment rates across the EU have remained persistently high, 14.7% of under 25s are unemployed, while the shortage of drivers in Europe's bus and coach sector increased by 54% from 2022 to 2023.

As a vital sector, we are in need of fresh energy: only 3% of professional bus and coach drivers are under 25, while 41% are over 55. Younger drivers can help to both reduce the driver shortage and lower the profession's average age.

Considering their longer career span, training young drivers is an investment in the future. It's an opportunity to drive a strong professional ethic and safety-oriented mindset from the onset of their career.

Also, younger people are more naturally familiar with modern technologies and can easily adapt to new tools. This makes them ideal candidates for the most modern technologically advanced fleets.

Our field of operation offers too many benefits to society and the drivers themselves for us to discourage young people from becoming bus and coach drivers, based on misguided arguments.

The current revision of the Driving Licence Directive is an opportunity to bring clarity on professional driver training ages in the EU. This would empower more capable and motivated young drivers to go through Europe's rigorous training and certification processes to become fully qualified drivers, providing us Europeans with the mobility services we depend on.

We all, including our politicians, must give young drivers our full support. Our representatives in Brussels should support the European Parliament Transport Committee's concrete steps to address the EU's youth unemployment and driver shortage while carefully considering and addressing road safety aspects.

Beyond bias: Young professional drivers are safe factsheet