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EU Considers Halting Lifetime Driving Licence Issuance..

Brussels: The European Union is contemplating discontinuing the issuance of lifetime driving licences in response to a surge in traffic accidents. Proposals include implementing stringent medical examinations as a prerequisite for obtaining lifelong licenses. While such a system is already operational in half of the EU member states, the suggestion has sparked considerable controversy and resistance in France.

Annually, more than 20,000 fatalities occur on EU roads, with 160,000 individuals sustaining severe injuries. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) assert that revising regulations could contribute to accident reduction and enhance road safety.

A vote on the draft legislation was conducted recently, with further deliberations scheduled for the subsequent parliamentary session following the European elections in June. This initiative forms part of the European Road Safety Strategy, which aims to halve accidental deaths and injuries on European roads by 2030, ultimately striving for fatality-free roads by 2050.

Additionally, the EU intends to introduce digitally accessible driving licences with equivalent validity to physical permits, accessible via smartphones.

Under the proposed changes, mandatory medical examinations and certification would be required for motorcycle, car, and tractor drivers every 15 years and every five years for bus and truck operators. There is a strong consensus advocating for these medical assessments to be free and straightforward, encompassing checks on drivers’ vision, hearing, and reflexes. The legislation also mandates ensuring compliance with these medical standards during licence issuance.

Several EU countries already enforce similar stringent measures. For instance, Italy mandates such tests at age 50, while Portugal requires them at age 40. In Ireland, individuals over 75 must obtain a fitness certificate from a general practitioner (GP) to apply for a licence. Nevertheless, the French Automotive Association opposes the proposed changes, citing hostility towards them.

Tennis star Pauline Deroulede, who represented France in the Paralympics, strongly supports this policy shift. She highlights a poignant example from 2018, where a 90-year-old man mistakenly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake, resulting in the loss of a pedestrian’s left leg. Despite knowing his limitations, the elderly driver continued to operate a vehicle. Deroulede argues that with appropriate legislation, such incidents could be prevented.

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