We’re not sure how Australian bus and coach operators would feel about this prospect, but in the UK law changes could see 18-year-olds piloting coaches across the nation’s highway network.

Currently, young drivers aged 18 to 20 in the UK are limited to bus routes that only allow for driving up to 50km/h.

But, the UK Department for Transport (DfT) recently launched a consultation to remove that restriction, allowing the novices to take to higher-speed routes, such as motorways.

In Australia, we’re generally less enthusiastic about letting younger drivers pilot buses and coaches. For example, in NSW you can’t get a Bus Authority until you’re 21.

The reason for the proposed change in the UK? To help get more drivers to work and thereby assist with tackling the driver shortage.

The DfT says the UK coach driver shortage currently stands at 13.6% and is 6.6% for bus drivers.

Roads Minister, Guy Opperman, said the move might make a career behind the wheel a more attractive prospect for school leavers.

“Being a bus, coach, or lorry driver can be an excellent career for young people and these proposals could help get younger talent into transport, encouraging diversity in the sector.

“This could be a win-win, not only improving job opportunities for those leaving school but also going some way to continue to ease driver shortages, delivering more reliable bus and coach services and a more resilient supply chain as part of our plan to grow the economy.”

The move has been backed by the Road Haulage Association (RHA), the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), and bus operators, including Stanley Travel.

Director of the medium-sized, family-run coach company, Andrew Scott, says the business is always looking to attract younger bus and coach drivers to the sector.

“We fully welcome these proposals which would remove the entry barriers to the industry, help us run more services to provide customers with greater choice, and open up fantastic careers as a coach driver for young people.”

The proposed changes will be determined later in the year.