Green Light for Underage Long-Haul Drivers: “This Will Lead to Increased Accident Rates”

The European Parliament has given the green light to a reform of EU driving rules, allowing driving off-road vehicles from the age of 16. However, road safety organizations are protesting vehemently.

The European Parliament has approved a reform of EU driving rules, including a reduction in the minimum age for driving trucks and cars. According to the approved text in Strasbourg, heavy vehicles can be driven from the age of 17 with adult supervision. Driving cars, including certain SUVs, will be permitted from the age of 16. The reform, intended by the European Commission, which proposed it, aims to reduce accidents and stimulate employment in the transport sector. However, it has faced sharp criticism from road safety organizations, claiming that lowering the minimum age will lead to increased casualties.

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) expressed strong dissatisfaction with the decision, stating that allowing thousands of teenagers to drive trucks and cars poses a threat to road safety. In a statement, ETSC said, “The fact that thousands of teenagers are driving trucks and cars is an affront to everything we know about the risks of road safety.”

The reform also stipulates that to obtain the right to drive a truck or bus with a maximum of 16 passengers, one must be 18 years old. However, drivers aged 17 will be allowed to operate these vehicles with the presence of an experienced driver. This accompanying driver must be at least 25 years old, possess a category C driver’s license obtained at least 5 years ago, and have no traffic violations leading to license revocation in the previous five years. The accompanying period should last for at least 2 years, after which the new driver can operate the vehicle without supervision.

Currently, in almost all EU member states, including Italy, one must be at least 21 years old to obtain a category C driver’s license. However, there are exceptions, such as in Germany. ETSC cites the German experience as an example, where studies by the German Insurance Association (GDV) show that drivers of heavy vehicles aged 18 to 20 have a significantly higher percentage of road traffic accidents resulting in injuries compared to older drivers.

In response to the European Parliament’s decision, ETSC emphasizes the need to improve working conditions in the transport sector rather than expanding driving access for school-aged children. Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of ETSC, criticizes, “If we need more truck drivers, the answer is a substantial improvement in working conditions in this sector, not recruiting school-age children.”

Thus, the decision raises serious concerns about road safety, and the public awaits the consequences of these changes in the future

New Driving Regulations Spark Controversy: Balancing Access and Safety

In a recent overhaul of traffic regulations in Europe, significant changes have been implemented, triggering diverse reactions within society. One key aspect of these changes is the reduction of the minimum age for driving certain types of cars, coupled with the introduction of speed limiters for young drivers.

According to the new rules, teenagers as young as 16 can now operate passenger vehicles equipped with speed limiters, reducing the maximum speed to 45 km/h. While this measure aims to enhance safety, it elicits mixed sentiments from the public.

The primary argument in favor of lowering the driving age is to increase transportation accessibility for young people. However, critics argue that this reform will privilege affluent families who can afford speed-limited cars for their children. This aspect raises questions about social justice and equality.

“If Europe believes in sustainable mobility, allowing wealthier parents to buy cars specially adapted for their children is unfair, harmful to health, and dangerous,” stated a representative from Etsc.

The reform also addresses concerns about the safety of elderly drivers. Initially proposed measures included health checks every 15 years for license renewals and restrictions on license extensions beyond the age of 70. However, these proposals were rejected, causing some apprehension in society.

Debates persist over the necessity of health checks for drivers over 70. Opponents argue that such tests are unwarranted and may introduce unfair treatment towards the elderly. Instead, an individualized approach to each driver, regardless of age, might be worth considering.

These changes in traffic regulations result from a quest for a balance between ensuring transportation accessibility and road safety. The reforms undoubtedly trigger active debates in society, and time will reveal their effects on safety and mobility in Europe





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