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21 July, 2024
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EU lawmakers want drivers to pass medical exams every 15 years

Drivers in France resist EU plan for mandatory medical exams


European Union lawmakers are debating whether to require drivers to pass medical exams every 15 years to keep their licences, a proposal that has sparked backlash in France.

According to a report on RTE, the plan, which aims to improve road safety and reduce fatalities, would apply to motorcycle, car and tractor drivers across the 27-nation bloc. Bus and truck drivers would need a doctor's approval every five years.

Green lawmaker Karima Delli, who chairs the European Parliament's transport committee, said the law "is not intended to annoy" and that the exams would be "free" and "simple". She said doctors would check drivers' sight, hearing and reflexes, and that the measure would affect all drivers, not just the elderly.

More than 20,000 people die every year on the EU's roads, while around 160,000 are seriously injured. Some lawmakers believe that regular medical checks could help lower those numbers and prevent accidents caused by health problems.

Pauline Deroulede, a French tennis player who will compete in the Paralympic Games this year, supports the proposal. She lost her left leg in 2018 after a car driven by a 90-year-old man who confused the accelerator for the brake hit her.

"My life was shattered," she said. "He knew he was no longer able to drive but put it off. He told me if there had been a law, he would have respected it."

Fourteen EU countries already require medical checks for drivers, with different age thresholds. In Ireland, for example, drivers aged 75 and over need a certification of fitness from their GP to apply for a three-year or one-year licence.

But the proposal has met resistance in France, the EU's second-largest economy, where the automotive association called it "openly hostile" to drivers. Some lawmakers also oppose it, arguing that it would be too burdensome and costly for citizens.

Far-right lawmaker Jean-Paul Garraud said the plan was "disproportionate" and "discriminatory".

The proposal is part of the EU's road safety strategy, which aims to cut the number of deaths and injuries on European roads by half by 2030, and to achieve zero fatalities by 2050.

The EU also wants to introduce digital driving licences that would be accessible via smartphones and have the same value as physical permits.

Lawmakers will vote on the draft text on Wednesday, but will discuss the legislation further in the next parliament after the European elections in June.

[With information sourced from RTE]

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