Last reviewed 26 November 2020

According to the International Road Transport Union (IRU), 20% of people aged 15 to 24 worldwide are not in employment, education or training while 21% of truck driver positions and 19% of bus and coach driver positions in Europe are unfilled.

It is therefore calling on governments to lower the minimum age for professional drivers to 18 in all sectors (truck, bus and coach) arguing that this will ease long-term driver shortages by guiding school leavers directly into professional training, helping combat youth unemployment.

Minimum age regulations for professional drivers currently vary significantly throughout the world.

While the minimum age is already 18 in the Middle East and some European countries, it is 21 in many other parts of the world and up to 26 for coach drivers in countries such as China and Turkey.

Even in the EU, there is a complicated patchwork of different ages and rules for truck, bus and coach drivers, sometimes depending on whether the transport is national or international.

A review by the European Commission of the Driving Licences Directive is due to be completed by 2022 and that, the IRU suggests, provides an opportunity to set the minimum age for all professional drivers at 18.

IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto said: “The road transport industry needs young people to meet the growing demand for drivers and ensure the continuity of our services. The average age of truck drivers in some places is 55. This needs to change.”

Driver shortage is a global concern, he went on, because it endangers mobility and trade. In Europe, one fifth of driver positions are unfilled while in the United States, the driver shortage, already around 60,000, is expected to double over the next decade.