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EU committee for mandatory health checks for driving licenses

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EU committee for mandatory health checks for driving licenses

Austria had always spoken out against it, as Transport Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) confirmed at the last ministerial meeting in Brussels. “Our goal is zero deaths in road traffic,” said the Green rapporteur Karima Delli at the press conference after the vote in Brussels. The Frenchwoman emphasized that she had taken the best practices of all member states and harmonized them in the proposal. The mandatory health checks “affect everyone, the elderly as well as the young”.

The proposal was narrowly adopted in committee with 22 votes in favor and 21 against (two abstentions). After the committee, the entire EU Parliament is expected to vote on its negotiating position in Strasbourg in January. The so-called trilogue negotiations between the EU institutions can then begin at EU level. The aim is to agree on a regulation that everyone can agree to.

According to the EU parliamentarians, all driving license holders should undergo a mandatory health check every time their driving license is reissued, i.e. every 15 years. This can also happen more often at national level for driving license holders over 70. Contrary to the proposals of the EU Commission and member states, the EU Parliament does not want to allow voluntary self-assessments as an alternative to health checks.

The EU countries had already agreed on a common position on the EU Commission’s proposal. According to this position, driving licenses should be renewed every 15 years – shorter deadlines should be left to the respective countries. Driving ability tests are not mandatory. Alternatively, EU states can rely on drivers’ self-assessments.

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Basically temporary

In Austria, driving licenses that have been issued since 2013 are generally limited to 15 years. All driving licenses that were issued before 2013 – in Austria the old, pink paper licenses – remain valid until 2033. The prerequisite for this is that the name and data on the driver’s license are still legible and the person concerned can be clearly recognized in the photo. However, the paper licenses must be converted into a current credit card driving license by January 19, 2033 at the latest.

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Mandatory health checks “cross a red line for us. This means that age discrimination is off the table, but the content is still incorrect. Countries with self-assessments, such as Germany and Austria, are significantly safer than countries with mandatory health checks. That’s why we are against the proposed law voted,” explained the ÖVP MEPs Barbara Thaler and Wolfram Pirchner. The People’s Party voted against the proposed law in the Transport Committee.

“Wrong approach”

“Suggestions such as mandatory medical checks for pensioners or staggered speed limits for novice drivers are the wrong approach and are also discriminatory. Age is not the decisive factor for safe driving, but rather the current state of health, driving experience, But above all, correct self-assessment and a critical, honest approach to one’s own performance,” said SPÖ-EU delegation leader Andreas Schieder in the run-up to the vote.

“We are always open to sensible innovations. However, there is no objective justification in the accident statistics for the change requests that have now been decided,” says Bernhard Wiesinger, head of the ÖAMTC interest group. The club is positive about the fact that numerous tightening measures presented by the rapporteur did not find a majority in the Transport Committee. For example, lower speed limits, night driving bans and restrictions on vehicle ownership for novice drivers are off the table.

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