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Van and bus drivers need better protection against long hours working

17 November 2009

The rules governing the working hours of van, bus and coach drivers are so out of date that many drivers have fewer breaks than office workers, the TUC has warned.

In its submission to the Department for Transport’s review of Domestic Drivers Hours Rules, the TUC says that long hours working is a direct cause of driver fatigue, which contributed to one in five road crashes last year.

Excessive working time can also cause stress, back pain and increase the risk of heart disease and mental illness, says the TUC.

Despite the clear road safety and health risks associated with drivers working long hours, one in four bus drivers work more than 49.5 hours a week, while one in four van drivers work more than 48 hours a week.

The working time rules for the drivers of vehicles buses, coaches, vans and some larger vehicles such as dustcarts and milk tankers were set by the 1968 Transport Act.

The TUC submission argues that these rules, now more than 30 years old, are so out of date that some drivers get less protection against long hours working than staff in shops, offices and factories, who are protected by the 1998 Working Time Regulations. Van drivers have no minimum entitlements to breaks for example.

The rules need to be updated to give all drivers the right to proper breaks and prevent them from working excessive hours, says the TUC.

The TUC submission recommends giving drivers of buses, coaches and some heavy vehicles that need a specialised operator’s licence as much protection as HGV drivers, who are protected by the Road Transport Working Time Regulations 2005.

Light van drivers also need these tougher rules and should have to keep a record of their working hours, says the TUC.