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22 Dec 2020·People

Entering into force last month, a new Spanish law reduces the minimum age for driving commercial heavy goods vehicles to 18 and for passenger transport vehicles in international transport to 21, with the possibility for it to be reduced to 18 in the future.

This has been a long-standing demand from the road transport industry to the Spanish Government. With the youth unemployment rate standing at over 40% in the country, reducing the minimum age will open up new job opportunities for out of work young people.

We asked the heads of several Spanish IRU members for their views.

What will be the key changes for the sector?

Ramón Valdivia, Director General of ASTIC, the Spanish International Road Transport Association:

We have always considered the three-year gap (and five in the case of passenger transport) between the age at which young people can complete high school education, which is 18, and the minimum age to have a truck driver’s licence, which was 21, to be a serious obstacle to young people joining the profession.

The shortage of young professional drivers in our country is acute, while the youth unemployment rate exceeds 40%. It is too early to anticipate how big the impact of this change in regulation will be, but it definitely has the potential to attract a new generation of younger drivers to the profession.

Francisco Iglesias Campos, CEO of ALSA, the leading coach operator in Spain:

The new law is a positive step. It will allow young people to become drivers and help Spanish companies fill vacant roles.
But there are other barriers that need to be removed in order to make this happen. The high cost of obtaining a professional licence, which is only possible at private schools, is an obstacle.

On the other hand, young drivers are sometimes perceived to be too immature for the serious responsibility of driving a coach. This needs to change. We need to convey the message that the training systems are robust and ensure safety. Data shows that road safety is not a matter of age.

What’s the next important step to make this work?

Rafael Barbadillo, President of CONFEBUS, the Spanish Confederation of Transport by Bus & Coach:

The passenger road transport sector is fundamental to our economy and society, as it drives growth and creates jobs. While the new reform will contribute to bringing young people closer to the profession, we must also work to ensure that this measure allows us to develop vocational training programmes with professional certifications that are adapted to the realities of the industry.

Francisco Iglesias Campos, CEO of ALSA:

The first step would be to raise public awareness of the advantages and employment opportunities in professional driving and the importance of the sector to wider business networks.

Another key step is to link the process of obtaining a driver’s licence to the regulated education system. Funding should be provided for training. The education authorities should also authorise training in private centres, which have the expertise and staff to conduct practical driver training.

Ovidio de la Roza, President of CETM, the Spanish Confederation of Goods Transport by Road:

Vocational training is something CETM has also been working on. In light of this new policy, we will redouble our efforts in two areas: ensuring that training responds to transport companies’ actual needs; and attracting young people to the profession, in an effort to reduce the driver shortage in our country.

Ramón Valdivia, Director General of ASTIC:

Access to the profession is, of course, not the only cause of driver shortages. Another important factor is the general lack of safe and secure parking areas and rest areas.

Our drivers deserve to be treated with dignity, so the next logical steps when it comes to regulating the access to the profession are related to building appropriate infrastructure and ensuring safety.

Do you think the new legislation will close the gap between school and the wheel?

Ovidio de la Roza, President of CETM:

Lowering the minimum age will help to attract many more young people to the profession. Spanish companies already offer dual training and learning programmes, which aim to connect education and employment. We are going to explore those and find the best ways to make the existing gap in the road transport industry disappear.

Rafael Barbadillo, President of CONFEBUS:

The recent and significant technological advances in professional road transport force us to make urgent structural changes to adapt the profile, training, skills and responsibilities of our drivers.

The funds allocated by the EU for economic recovery from the impact of COVID 19, together with regulatory changes such as the one that Spain has adopted, should present an opportunity to develop precise human resource development plans for sustainable recovery and the modernisation of commercial road transport.

Francisco Iglesias Campos, CEO of ALSA:

Public knowledge about the drivers’ profession is lacking, so we cannot be sure that closing the gap between school and the wheel would lead to an immediate increased interest in the profession.

We need to ensure alignment between the government institutions involved and the road transport industry. A lower minimum age makes it easier to link training to the available job opportunities, but the whole system needs to be improved.
A regulatory framework linking training to the profession would open the door to young people who may not have previously considered it as an option. We are dedicated to facilitating access for all, including women.

Helping your teen learn to drive is a major milestone in the lives of many parents. This process is filled with extra patience, proud moments, and a bit of fear as you imagine your teen behind-the-wheel without you. But a recent study shows that many parents are optimistic about the next generation of drivers being safer than their own generation.

Thanks to better training, new regulations, improved safety features, and safer general driving behaviors, today’s parents are confident that this next generation is on their way to becoming safer drivers than in generations past and present.

Let’s take a look at these factors and how they’re contributing to a generation of safer drivers.

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Better Training

In a recent survey, 81% of parents said that their children received a better driver’s education than they did. For many parents, driver’s ed was taught as part of their public school education, and it was often taught by the gym teacher who had a free period.

Today’s driver’s ed experience is more sophisticated. Specialized driving schools have popped up countrywide over the past couple of decades to offer quality driving instruction. Online driving schools provide engaging, multimedia curriculum to make the material interactive and memorable. And today’s driving instructors are also generally better trained than driving instructors of past decades, which allows them to better communicate the principles of safe driving to their students.

Thanks to this improved driver’s ed training, nearly three in four parents surveyed agreed that their teen is a safer driver than they were at his or her age.

Parent-Taught Driver’s Ed

We can’t have a complete discussion of the better training for new drivers without mentioning parent-taught driver’s ed as a new driver training option.

Parent-taught driver’s ed is a state-authorized driver’s ed program led by parents instead of by driving instructors. While most state-approved driver’s ed programs require a behind-the-wheel component with a certified driving instructor, some states, like Texas, are now allowing parents to instruct their teens in the behind-the-wheel portion of their driver’s training.

Many parents are happy to accept responsibility for their teen’s driving education. 76% of parents believe their parent-taught teen would be as safe as a driver who took lessons with a professional driving instructor. And parents appreciate the reduced cost, increased scheduling flexibility, and shorter turn-around time of these new parent-taught driver’s ed programs.

Check with your local DMV to see if parent-taught driver’s ed programs have been approved in your state. Drivers leica geosystems.

New Regulations

Changes in driving regulations have also played a part in making this coming generation of drivers safer on the road.

Around the turn of the millennium, most states took new drivers directly from learner’s permit (which allowed the teen driver to practice driving as long as a licensed adult over a certain age supervised from the passenger’s seat) to full driver’s license. But today, most states include a “probationary” or “provisional” period between learner’s permit and full driver’s license. This period typically includes restrictions on how many passengers can be in the vehicle with the new driver and which hours of the day the driver can get behind the wheel.

In Texas, for example, teens between 16 and 17 years old can be granted a provisional driver’s license with the following restrictions:

  • You may not drive a motor vehicle with more than one passenger in the vehicle under 21 who is not a family member.

  • You may not drive a motor vehicle between midnight and 5:00 a.m., unless the operation of the vehicle is necessary for the driver to work, to attend or participate in a school-related activity, or due to a medical emergency.

  • You are restricted from using a wireless communications device, including a hands-free device, except in the case of an emergency.

59% of parents surveyed believe regulations like this, which limit driving time, passengers, and distractions, are keeping today’s teenage drivers safer.

Improved Safety Features

Thanks, in part, to the effort of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), today’s vehicles are designed to be safer than vehicles driven by previous generations. Improved safety features, like Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), and rear-facing cameras are standard on new vehicles.

These improved vehicle safety features have had a dramatic impact on driver safety. In 2011, the US Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, announced that the number of traffic fatalities in 2010 was the lowest it had been since 1949! This is especially impressive considering the significant increase in the number of miles Americans drove on average in 2010 compared to 1949.

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In addition to the safety features of vehicles themselves, safety features are also now available on mobile devices to promote safe driving. There are multiple safe driver apps, which monitor factors like speed, braking, and cornering to keep drivers accountable for their driving habits. There are also multiple apps that prevent drivers from accessing their cell phones while a vehicle is in motion, which limits cell phone-related driving distractions.

Safer Behaviors

Speaking of cell phone-related distractions, our survey data indicates that cell phone distractions are a bigger problem for parents today than for teens. Teens seem to be practicing safer driving behaviors with regard to phone access, texting, and even social media.

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Consider these survey results:

  • Parents are 38% more likely to keep their phone accessible while driving than their teens are

  • Parents are 28% more likely to text while driving than their teens are

  • Parents are 6% more likely to check social media while driving than their teens are

Perhaps this is why a respectable 72% of parents surveyed report trusting their teen to drive safely more than their parents trusted them.

Recently popularized tools like parent-teen driving contracts also help build trust. These formal written agreements between parents and their teen drivers outline the parent’s expectations regarding driving behaviors and explain the consequences for the teens if they fail to meet these standards.

On the whole, teens seem to have taken the safe driving message to heart, giving parents good reason to be optimistic about the safety of the next generation of drivers.

Do you want more information on online drivers ed courses, behind-the-wheel instruction, and teen driving tips? Find it all at DriversEd.com!

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