The Estonian Minister of Defense has sent a draft bill for approval, which would lower the requirements for driving LMT category vehicles, such as tanks and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), to category B, which is the same as is required to drive passenger cars.
Under the current regulations, to drive LMT category vehicles belonging to the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) and the Defense League (Kaitseliit), a category C, D or T driver's license is required.
The explanatory memorandum to the draft bill states that LMT category vehicles are allowed to operate at speeds of up to 50 km/h, which reduces the potential risks to fellow road users resulting from driver errors.
The bill would therefore allow EDF members or employees aged 18 and over, who hold category B motor vehicle drivier's licenses to be given the right to drive tracked EDF tanks and IFVs.
A new paragraph has been added to the regulation, stipulating that those who hold driver's licenses of the required category, must still undergo training before being able to drive LMT category vehicles. In other words, the possession of a B license does not remove the EDF's obligation to provide training to personnel before they can drive a higher category of vehicle.
The explanatory memorandum also states that LMT category tracked vehicles are different in design and therefore require different driver's techniques to those needed to drive other vehicles. Therefore, the training to obtain a category C driver's license is not, in and of itself, considered sufficient to prepare someone to drive a tracked vehicle.
Once the regulation enters into force, members of the EDF Scout Battalion will no longer need to undergo training to obtain category C or D driver's licenses. They can instead, immediately be enrolled in EDF-run machine crew courses, cutting the average amount of time spend undergoing service training by six months.
The changes will not lead to any additional costs or direct benefits for either the state or local authorities. It will however remove the need for the EDF to apply for higher category licenses for its personnel once they have completed the required training, in order to allow them to drive LMT category vehicles. This is expected to result in considerable financial savings in the region of €50,000 per year.
Editor: Michael Cole