Status: 22.09.2023, 11:41 a.m.
By: Teresa Toth
Are stricter driving licence rules coming? A draft EU law provides for stricter guidelines to reduce accidents. Seniors are also affected.
Kassel – For motorists, a lot has already changed in 2023: Thousands had to apply for new driver's licenses, for example, as part of a driver's license exchange. Now the European Union is planning further changes that could come into force as early as this year. Seniors are particularly affected by this.
The EU discusses regular reviews of driving fitness for seniors
Most recently, the EU Parliament had already discussed stricter rules for pensioners. The reason for this is that the ability to react and mobility decreases with age, which could increase the risk of accidents. Seniors over the age of 70 will therefore only receive driver's licenses that are valid for five years in the future – instead of a 15-year validity as before. This is to ensure a regular check of the roadworthiness.
However, the EU is now discussing further tightening within the framework of the planned amendment. This is supposed to be a revision of the old driver's license directive from 2006, as Focus reports. According to the paper, it has a corresponding draft report.
The reason for the EU's new draft is the goal of reducing road accidents
The background to the new draft is the so-called "Vision Zero", a safety strategy with the goal: "No fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic", as the German Road Safety Council explains. In Germany alone, 2022 people died in traffic accidents in 2788, according to the Federal Statistical Office (Destasis). 361,134 people were injured.
Bus instead of car: in Baden-Württemberg, seniors receive free tickets in exchange for their driver's license. © Mihajlo Maricic/Imago
In order to reduce these numbers and achieve the goal of "Vision Zero", the EU is planning further measures for driving fitness. The draft also provides for limiting the validity of driving licences for people aged 70 and over to five years. In addition, according to Focus, there would be restrictions for people over 60: They should only receive their driver's license for a period of seven years.
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New EU draft: Even shorter validity of driving licences for seniors aged 80 and over
After the expiry of the validity, the driver's license must be renewed – the costs for this are borne by the affected seniors themselves. Whether the papers are reissued is not exclusively related to a new driving test. The EU is also planning extensive medical and psychological examinations to determine fitness to drive.
According to the draft, even stricter restrictions would apply to seniors aged 80 and over. Their driving licences should only be valid for two years. While comparable rules for older drivers are already firmly enshrined in law in some neighbouring European countries such as Italy or Spain, it remains to be seen whether and to what extent the planned innovations will be implemented in Germany.
|Affected age groups
|Planned restriction on the validity of the driving licence
|Seniors aged 60 and over
|for seven years
|Seniors aged 70 and over
|for five years
|Seniors aged 80 and over
|for two years
In Austria, some have already spoken out against a change in driving licences for seniors
In Austria, for example, numerous politicians have spoken out clearly against the draft. "This must not be implemented in this form in Austria," the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation quotes the President of the Austrian Pensioners' Association, Peter Kostelka. Public transport also rejects the proposal decidedly. "Our negotiating goal is that at the end of the day there will be a different law on the table than what we have now," said ÖVP MEP Barbara Thaler.
Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) had already spoken out against the first draft, which initially only concerned a restriction for seniors over 70: "I don't think much of the idea that seniors of a certain age have to undergo a fitness test regularly without any further reason," he emphasized. And the Union also resolutely rejects a test of driving fitness for older people. (tt)