Driven to Distraction? International Coach and Bus Drivers in the EU

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


EU regulations for the international road passenger transport market, including driving time regulations, have failed to maintain social standards for drivers. Enforcement agencies are under- resourced but still find extensive violation of drivers’ hours during inspection weeks, especially when these driving time offences are targeted by inspectors. The working environment for bus and coach drivers is often poor and cost-competition arising from new (platform) business models is driving down terms and conditions of employment. The new ‘business partnerships’ that have emerged are between the ‘platform’ (e.g. FlixBus) and local coach operators – these are not partnerships between management and labour as drivers are often more insecure, their pay is less predictable, the demands on their working (and non-working) time are ever greater, and they are often denied trade union representation.
This report focuses on a survey of almost 700 bus and coach drivers, which reveals that many drivers do not enjoy basic social benefits and protection (e.g. holiday and sick pay, health insurance and access to training). Agency and temporary drivers, in particular, are less likely to enjoy such benefits. Drivers’ pay is often low and highly variable, both week-to-week (depending on hours worked) and season-to- season (pay is higher in the peak season). Some are not even provided with a detailed pay slip by their employer. Additional work demands (e.g. cleaning the coach) extend the working day and can eat into social/family time (e.g. studying routes and checking toll charges). Very few drivers are paid for the time they spend driving to/from work, which can further extend the working day. Even when they are not working, their daily and weekly rest time is frequently interrupted, which further adds to fatigue and increases the risk of ‘occupational burnout’. When overworked and fatigued, drivers can be ‘driven to distraction’, putting themselves, their passengers and other road users at risk.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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