End of lifetime driving license: users more in favor of an aptitude test than a medical examination

End of lifetime driving license: users more in favor of an aptitude test than a medical examination

Aptitude examination or medical examination? While the European Parliament is preparing to vote on the systematization of a medical examination every fifteen years to maintain one’s driving license, some consider this reform insufficient and instead recommend preventive driving courses.

Launched into a car at 80 km/h in a parking lot at the Villepinte exhibition center (Seine-Saint-Denis), Patrick Verdier, a 65-year-old retiree, slams on the brakes at the light signal from the trainer, sitting in the passenger seat.

The rough noise of the tires on the asphalt adds to the whir of the brooms of the planes in the sky, on the outskirts of the nearby Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle airport. The vehicle stops, narrowly avoiding a cone. Driver reaction time: 0.6 seconds. Braking distance: 3 m.

Having your foot already prepositioned above the brake saves up to three seconds of reaction time. Perhaps this will limit the damage.“, explains this defensive driving trainee to AFP.

With the driving license reform which will be debated in the European Parliament on February 27, a medical examination could be imposed on all European citizens every fifteen years in order to be able to keep their license.

People declared medically unfit could thus lose the right to drive.

For Patrick Verdier, the administrative renewal of the license, coupled with a compulsory medical examination, is “healthy” but not sufficient. He wonders about the modalities of this control. Rather than a medical examination, “isn’t it better to take a driving test?”

“No beneficial effect”

Also a trainee, François Bedoura, 57, is learning to control his vehicle in the event of loss of grip. With his family living in Central Europe, the engineer is often faced with “complicated weather conditions” with “ice or snow”.

We learned to drive a long time ago. What is interesting is to update your knowledge“, he adds, believing that it is essential to “see the person in the situation” to attest to his abilities.

According to MEP and rapporteur of the text Karima Delli (Europe Ecology), we must “ensure that when renewing the license, we add a small aptitude test” by checking “hearing, sight and reflexes” of the driver.

At the European Parliament, the elected official will be accompanied by Pauline Déroulède, member of the French wheelchair tennis team. Hit by the car of a nonagenarian who “pressed the accelerator instead of the brake”, she lost her left leg in 2018.

Through his personal story, the Paralympic athlete wishes to challenge MEPs on the need for a reform of the license and pleads for the systematization of a medical examination.

But for Dr Philippe Lauwick, president of the Automobile Club Médical de France association, which brings together doctors approved for the control of medical fitness to drive, the systematization of this visit is an “extremely cumbersome” measure which does not will have “no beneficial effect” in terms of road safety.

“Impairment” of mobility

Every year, there are approximately a million candidates who take the driving test. Since the measure envisages a compulsory medical examination every fifteen years, we would have more than 300,000 medical examinations to be carried out each year.“, estimates the doctor, emphasizing its significant financial cost.

Karima Delli, however, wants to set up “something simple” and “free”.

The road users association 40 million motorists launched a petition on Monday and called for people to “mobilize against this unacceptable text of law”.

The measure also raises questions about the mobility of people who will be declared “unfit” after a medical examination.

There are people who live in the countryside, where there is less public transport… We must apply the measure intelligently“, raises François Bedoura.

At a certain age, abandoning your car is seen as an attack” to mobility, believes Patrick Verdier.

For Pauline Déroulède as for Karima Delli, the measure must “go hand in hand with the implementation of alternative mobility solutions”. And to mention “transport on demand, shuttles adapted for this population who will no longer be able to take the car”, defends the athlete.