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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.

Driving time

A lorry driving on a roadTiredness 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.

Training for professional drivers

Directive 2003/59/EC lays down requirements for the initial qualification and periodic 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.

Drivers have to take 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years to maintain and update their skills.

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

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

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