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Seniors behind the wheel. In which countries do they have to renew their licenses and undergo tests

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Currently, there are no regulations in Poland restricting the ability of drivers of advanced age to drive. However, in some countries in Europe, seniors who want to continue driving must renew their driving license and undergo medical examinations. We checked what these restrictions look like in seven countries.

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The tragic accident occurred on January 3 in Częstochowa. SUV driver he hit two women on a pedestrian crossing. Both died. “Preliminary findings indicate that the 80-year-old driver of an Audi Q7 did not yield the right of way and hit pedestrians crossing a marked and lit pedestrian crossing. Unfortunately, despite the rescue activities undertaken, the lives of the 33-year-old and the 45-year-old could not be saved,” she informed the media. Silesian Police social media. Some netizens commenting on Facebook post on the profile of the TVN24 station with information about this accident, they focused on the age of the perpetrator. “Statutory ban on driving after the age of 75 as soon as possible”; “Ban for grandparents to drive cars” – they wrote (original spelling).

The topic of road accidents caused by seniors comes up regularly, although from police accidents data It turns out that younger drivers are responsible for most accidents. In 2022, the most accidents – 5,855 – were caused by people aged 25 to 39. There were slightly fewer drivers aged 40-59 – 5,600. People over 65 were responsible for 3,551 accidents.

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Perpetrators of road accidents in 2022 by age groupsKonkret24/Police

In Poland, there are no regulations restricting drivers of advanced age from driving. It’s similar, for example in Germany Whether in France. Until 2017, additional medical examinations were obligatory for drivers in Denmarkbut this solution was abandoned.

In the spring of 2023, the European Commission announced the introduction of regulations providing for mandatory tests every five years for drivers older than 70 years. Inventive they objected however, Germany and Austria. Finally, on December 4, 2023, at the meeting of the Council of the European Union composed of transport ministers it was decidedto leave the decision on these changes to the Member States themselves.

How is it in Poland? Currently, by law, drivers do not have to renew their driving license after reaching a certain age. There is no such entry in the Act on vehicle driversnor in the applicable one regulation Minister of Infrastructure regarding the issuance of documents confirming driving license.

Drivers who obtained an indefinite driving license before January 18, 2013, i.e. before the changes in regulations, will lose their indefinite driving privileges in a few years. The process of exchanging documents without an expiration date will start in 2028 and will last five years. Drivers can too replace the document earlier at your own request. When replacing an old driving license with a new, valid one They are not required medical exams – results from information on the gov.pl website.

When your driving license has expired, you need a medical certificate to obtain a new document, serves government website.

Apart from the previously mentioned Germany, France and Denmark, some European countries already have significant restrictions on seniors driving. We present sample solutions.

The czech republic
According to Czech act on road traffic (paragraph 87, section 3), drivers must undergo compulsory check-ups with a family doctor for the first time at the age of 65, then at the age of 68, and thereafter every two years.

“The research focuses mainly on diseases that exclude or condition the medical ability to drive,” we read website Czech Ministry of Transport. It includes, among others: hearing and vision testing. Since 2013, a doctor must immediately report to the relevant authorities if he or she discovers that a driver has developed a disease that limits the ability to drive a vehicle. In the Czech Republic, there is already an institution called Harmonized Code, which restricts the right to drive in the vicinity of one’s place of residence. Therefore, a senior with poor health does not completely lose the right to drive a car – he or she can get to the store or to the doctor on his or her own.

How serves Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, drivers who are 70 years of age or older at the time of renewal of a Group 1 driving license (includes driving licenses for passenger cars, scooters, motorcycles) must obtain a current medical certificate or a comprehensive medical certificate (not older than six months). This requirement also applies to drivers with a group 2 driving license (trucks and buses) who are over 45 years of age.

“A comprehensive medical report for an older person takes into account the effects of aging, disease and possible medications on a person’s ability to drive. A person’s observational skills can be tested through various tests, such as the Clock Drawing Test. Different health requirements apply to people renewing driving licenses of groups 1 and 2,” Traficom further explains.

Also in Spain, the renewal of a driving license involves tests. Older drivers have to renew their driving license more often and are therefore more likely to undergo required tests. Thus, a class B driving license (passenger cars) in Spain is valid for ten years for drivers who are under 65 years of age. After the age of 65, the validity period is five years. When renewing a driving license, the driver must each time submit a psychophysical fitness report (the document cannot be older than 90 working days). It is issued by authorized driver testing centers.

In Ireland, the age and health of the driver determines the validity period of the driving license. From February 21, 2022, the age at which a person applying for a driving license or extending its validity must present a medical certificate confirming the ability to drive has been increased. It is now 75 years, previously it was 70 years – informed Irish Department of Transport. Drivers under 75 in Ireland only have to produce this certificate if they have a specific condition or are required by law to do so.

“This change is welcome because it recognizes that older drivers are an extremely responsible group of drivers. Moreover, it is supported by international research showing that routine medical examinations of older drivers are not only ineffective, but may actually inadvertently increase injuries and deaths among people older people as pedestrians,” commented Professor Desmond O’Neill from the National Office for Traffic Medicine.

Currently, drivers aged 75 and over in Ireland receive a driving license for a period of one to three years. The condition is to have a certificate from a doctor confirming the ability to drive, dated no later than one month, the website states CitizenInformation.iewhere information about public services in Ireland is published.

From the age of 60, drivers in Portugal must present a medical certificate when renewing their group 1 driving license – we read on government portal ePortugal. Older drivers also have to renew their driving license more frequently. Depending on when they obtained their driving license and between the ages of 50 and 69, they renew it every five years. All category 1 drivers from the age of 70 must renew their driving license every two years, informs ePortugal.

According to Slovenian Act on drivers, the driving license is issued for a period of 10 years. However, when a driver reaches the age of 70, his driving license may only be valid for five years (Article 59, point 4). Moreover, “the holder of a driving license in categories AM, A1, A2, A, B, B1, BE, F and G who has reached the age of 70 years shall have his driving license renewed if he presents a medical certificate confirming that he is physically and mentally fit” to drive a motor vehicle of a specific category”, we read further in the same Act (Article 59, point 6).

The validity period of drivers’ driving licenses may also be shorter and limited to the period specified in the medical certificate – explain in Q&A of the government portal eUprava.

Drivers with a Hungarian driving license are obliged to undergo periodic tests to assess their physical fitness. The older they are, the more often they do. Thus, drivers with a group 1 driving license (for mopeds, motorcycles, passenger cars) up to the age of 49 take these tests every ten years, between the ages of 50 and 59 – every five years, and between the ages of 60 and 69. years of age – every three years, and from the age of 70 – every two years – given on the government website Egészségvonal. This is due to regulation on determining the health status of road vehicle drivers.

Older people cause the fewest accidents, but…

– Taking into account the number of people of a given age, people aged 60 and over still cause the fewest road accidents in Poland. These are usually mature people, i.e. with some knowledge of life. It seems to me that a better idea than periodically licensing them would be to reach out to them. For example, allowing, or even forcing, people over the age of 65 to see a doctor once in a while – every year or two. They could also undergo practical tests like professional drivers and check their reaction time behind the wheel. I think that seniors will often be able to make a reasonable decision on their own to limit driving – said Łukasz Zboralski, a road safety expert from the brd24.pl portal. – I would follow the path that first gives people the opportunity to assess their own capabilities, perception and knowledge, and then decide whether they should drive – he concluded.

10/03/2023 | The European Commission wants regular tests for seniors behind the wheelTVN24

“Let us remember that with age, vision and hearing deteriorate, reaction time is reduced, concentration and attention decrease. This may affect safety” – commented Maria Dąbrowska-Loranc from the Institute of Transport in March 2023 for the “Poland and World” magazine on TVN24 Automotive.

Main photo source: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

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