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EuropeThe End of Lifetime Driving Licenses? Controversy Swirls Around Proposed EU Legislation

The End of Lifetime Driving Licenses? Controversy Swirls Around Proposed EU Legislation

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Juan Sanchez Gil
Juan Sanchez Gil
Juan Sanchez Gil - at The European Times News - Mostly in the back lines. Reporting on corporate, social and governmental ethics issues in Europe and internationally, with emphasis on fundamental rights. Also giving voice to those not being listened to by the general media.

A new piece of European legislation is steering towards a significant shift in how driving licenses are managed across the Union, sparking a lively debate among drivers of all ages. At the heart of the controversy is a proposal that could see the end of lifetime driving licenses, requiring drivers to undergo medical examinations every fifteen years to keep their licenses valid.

This proposed change is part of the 21st amendment of the European driving license directive, aiming to align with Brussels’ “Vision Zero” goal. This ambitious plan seeks to eliminate road-related deaths by 2050. While road fatalities have significantly decreased from 51,400 in 2001 to 19,800 in 2021 across Europe, progress has plateaued in recent years, prompting the need for new measures.

Firefly A caucasian person in bad mood thinking of having to renew once again his driving license. 1 The End of Lifetime Driving Licenses? Controversy Swirls Around Proposed EU Legislation

Currently, countries like Italy and Portugal require medical checks for drivers starting at age 50, with Spain and Greece starting at 65, Denmark at 70, and the Netherlands at 75. In contrast, France, Germany, Belgium, and Poland allow drivers to hold their licenses for life without such requirements. The new EU directive, championed by French Green MEP Karima Delli, seeks to standardize the process across member states, insisting the move is not ageist but rather a means to ensure driver fitness.

Driving instructors like Thomas Marchetto see merit in the proposal, highlighting that good health doesn’t always equate to safe driving. However, many senior drivers feel particularly targeted by the change, despite assurances that the measure aims to enhance road safety for all. Younger drivers, on the other hand, welcome the initiative, seeing it as a necessary step to assess driver reflexes and capabilities.

The debate has sparked significant opposition, with organizations such as “40 million motorists” launching petitions like “Don’t Touch My License.” These groups argue that revoking driving privileges without any infractions, solely based on medical assessments, is unfair and discriminates against drivers based on age and health.

Adding to the chorus of dissent, MEP Maxette Pirbakas voiced her concerns on Twitter, highlighting the unique challenges faced by her constituents in the French Antilles:

“In the @Europarl_EN, I co-signed an amendment to reject this excessive text that will lead to the cancellation of driving licenses of people who have committed no infractions. In my home in the Antilles, where public transport networks are embryonic, not having a car is equivalent to social death. This anti-car policy goes further and further without ever taking into account the realities of the peripheries and rural areas.”

As the European Parliament gears up to discuss the bill on February 27, following its first reading in December, the future of driving licenses in the EU hangs in the balance. The proposed legislation has ignited a conversation about safety, discrimination, and the right to mobility, with stakeholders on all sides gearing up for a heated debate.

image 3 The End of Lifetime Driving Licenses? Controversy Swirls Around Proposed EU Legislation
The End of Lifetime Driving Licenses? Controversy Swirls Around Proposed EU Legislation 3

Pirbakas’ statement underscores the broader implications of the law, especially for those living in areas where public transportation is limited or non-existent, emphasizing the need for policies that consider the diverse circumstances of all EU citizens.

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