RHA calls for easing of 18-20s driving rules

The RHA says restrictions on 18 to 20-year-olds driving coaches should be eased to get more people behind the wheel.

The age group is currently restricted to driving no more than 50km, which the RHA says should be lifted to boost driver numbers amid sector shortages. The RHA proposal comes as the Department for Transport (DfT) has consulted on plans to encourage more people to drive coaches, HGVs and buses.

New plans could see the distance restriction on 18 to 20-year-olds removed for coach and bus drivers on a ‘regular service’. But the RHA says this would do little to benefit the coach sector which mainly operates unscheduled services. They urge officials to revise plans to bring these into scope.

Sally Gilson, RHA Policy Lead, Skills and Drivers, said: “We support moves to bring younger people into the industry and believe that easing age-based restrictions on coach drivers will help us tackle driver shortages. But confining this to scheduled services would have little impact on plugging coach driver vacancies which stand at 13.6%.

“The coach sector is a great social and economic enabler so we need to do all we can to ensure it’s in the best place to support tourism, leisure and other sectors. We urge ministers to go a step further and allow this age group to drive on unscheduled services which would boost numbers and therefore the economy.”

Meanwhile, the RHA has urged officials to abandon plans to allow HGV and PSV learners to undertake training elements before receiving their provisional licence. Would-be drivers could be allowed to complete theory and off-road modules but the RHA warns that firms could incur unnecessary costs if the learner is subsequently found to have medical issues or driving convictions which would disallow them from driving larger vehicles.

Gilson added: “We don’t believe the move offers many significant benefits and believe it could spark unintended consequences in some cases when drivers in training are turned down for their provisional licence. Funding rules for the successful HGV bootcamps would also have to be changed.”

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