EU states back self-assessment for drivers despite German criticism

BRUSSELS: Germany was outvoted on Monday as European Union transport ministers backed plans for drivers to self-assess their readiness to keep driving in order to renew their licence.

The new rules could apply to drivers of all ages, and not only to senior drivers.

Following Monday's compromise, EU states can start negotiations with the European Parliament on the details of the reform.

German Transport Minister Volker Wissing on Monday rejected compulsory self-assessments for drivers as part of new EU rules aimed at making European roads safer.

These self-evaluations were "excessive bureaucracy," said Wissing, as he arrived for a meeting with his EU counterparts here, announcing that he won't back self-evaluations for drivers.

A majority in favour of the compromise was nevertheless achieved.

Under the plans, drivers' licences would have to be renewed every 10 to 15 years, with possibly shorter periods for senior drivers.

Additionally, EU states called for a probationary period for new licence holders and accompanied driving from the age of 17 to become available across the EU.

EU states also endorsed digital driving licences.

The reform plans are based on a legislative proposal by the European Commission which aims to improve road safety and harmonise requirements for drivers across the bloc's 27 member states.

Around 20,000 people die each year in road accidents in the EU.

In car-loving Germany, known for its autobahn motorways which include stretches without speed limits, elderly people drive less often than younger people but are more often responsible for serious accidents than younger generations, the German Federal Statistical Office said on Monday.

Additionally, one third of all road deaths in Germany in 2022 were senior citizens, according to the latest figures.

The reform plans had caused a stir in Germany over fears that mandatory medical examinations could be introduced from a certain age.

Many other EU countries already oblige elderly drivers to undergo health checks if they want to continue driving.

Wissing said he was "happy" that such mandatory health evaluations were not part of the tabled compromise. EU-wide checks were also not foreseen in the commission's proposal.
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