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Driving in France: EU mulls compulsory medical tests for older drivers

The Local France
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Driving in France: EU mulls compulsory medical tests for older drivers
(Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP)

Debates are beginning on an EU initiative to end 'driving licences for life' and impose a medical test on those who want to continue driving past a certain age, bringing France into line with many of its European neighbours.


The possibility that older motorists would be obliged to pass a medical examination in order to keep hold of their driving licence has been a topic of discussion in the European Commission for some time, and next week debates will begin in the European Parliament.

The idea of imposing a medical test on older drivers is part of the EU's 'zero road deaths' strategy. If adopted it would bring France in line with many of its neighbours, which already require older drivers to take a medical test in order to keep their licences.

France, along with its neighbour Germany, currently operates a permis à vie (licence for life) policy, in which licences have no expiry date. Older drivers are only required to take a medical test if ordered to do so by the préfecture, which usually only happens after an accident or near-miss.


However the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Finland, Greece and the Czech Republic all require older drivers to take a medical in order to keep their licence - the test age varies from 50 to 70 - while Belgium requires regular tests for drivers of all ages.

In the UK drivers must renew their licence once they reach the age of 70, but there is no requirement for a medical test.

The proposal must now be passed in the European Parliament in order to become law - but the French government has already said it would be opposed to the idea.

Former transport minister Clément Beaune, speaking in October 2023, said: "France is opposed to having an expiration date for driving licences. When you’re an elderly person, especially in rural areas, you need a car."

If adopted, the proposal would allow countries to choose the format of the tests and the age that they are imposed. As ever with EU legislation, it would take several years to come into effect, even if it is passed.


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Shane Routledge 2023/10/06 17:25
< Unlike UK driving licences, which have to be renewed once the driver reaches the age of 70, French licences have no expiry date, and you can continue driving for as long as you are well enough to do so safely. > To be clear, the only difference between France and the UK is that the UK drivers have to apply every three years as long as they are "are well enough to drive safely". No test, just have their licences updated.

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