Last reviewed 21 June 2021

A 60-page report by the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) reveals that levels of professional driver fatigue throughout Europe are at epidemic levels. The study has been welcomed by the UK’s leading union which said it mirrored its own findings.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “The survey findings are stark and show that the drivers across Europe are experiencing the same problems as their counterparts in the UK. Excessive hours is not only making drivers ill but it is also endangering the safety of other road users.”

The ETF said that its research, involving 2861 truck, bus and coach drivers, was the first EU-wide study in 15 years on driver fatigue in passenger and freight road transport.

The report sets out to examine the specific working conditions of professional drivers and how these conditions lead to endemic fatigue in the sector.

It found that 60% of truck drivers and 66% of bus and coach drivers had to drive while fatigued on a regular basis while nearly one-third of truck drivers and one quarter of coach drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel while driving.

“The working hours of bus, coach and truck drivers are particularly long, leaving insufficient time for satisfying the basic needs for recuperation and restorative sleep, let alone for the achievement of a satisfactory work-life balance,” the ETF states.

Report recommendations

The ETF is calling on policy-makers and employers to:

  • guarantee fair wages given that current extremely low wages force drivers to work longer hours to make a decent living

  • ensure that drivers are remunerated for all work-related tasks

  • stop plans to make driving and rest time rules more flexible in freight and passenger transport.

The study can be found at - www.etf-europe.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Driver-Fatigue-in-European-Road-Transport-Report.pdf