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New proposals regarding driving licences seek solutions in the wrong places - Barry Andrews MEPProposals would mandate drivers over 70 to undergo regular medical checks.

Fianna Fáil MEP for Dublin, Barry Andrews, has strongly voiced his opposition to proposed changes to the Driving Licence Directive. These changes would mandate drivers over 70 to undergo regular medical checks to renew their driving licences. Andrews expressed his concerns ahead of a controversial vote scheduled tomorrow, Wednesday 28th February, in the European Parliament.

Following today’s debate in Strasbourg Andrews stated, "In 2024, Irish road fatalities are on the verge of surpassing the total count recorded in 2019. The primary contributors to this concerning trend are identified as phone usage, speeding, and failure to wear seatbelts. Interestingly, despite the urgency of addressing this issue, there seems to be a notable absence of suggestions advocating for an increase in road tests for older drivers as a viable solution to mitigate this rise in road deaths.

"Garda Commissioner Drew Harris recently stated that the gains made in reducing drink driving are now being lost to the emergence of drug-driving; so rather than seeking solutions in the wrong places, such as penalising older drivers, we must focus on targeted approaches to address these pressing issues."

MEP Andrews added: “The current practices across European countries vary concerning licensing procedures for older drivers, with some nations implementing age-based renewal requirements and medical examinations. Research, including a comparison of Finnish and Swedish licensing practices, suggests that age-based mandatory assessments may not necessarily enhance safety and could even have counterproductive outcomes.”

Addressing the issue, Andrews remarked: "Requiring regular medical examinations for drivers over 70 would not only be a costly endeavour, placing a further undue burden on older drivers but would also burden our already stretched healthcare services, especially with a lack of evidence that this has contributed to the recent rise in road deaths on Irish roads."

"The European Union's push for drivers aged 70 to renew their license every five years, through medical testing is seen by many as age discrimination. There's a lack of evidence showing that drivers in this age group are more prone to accidents," Andrews stated, emphasising the need for measures that consider medical conditions rather than age as a determining factor.

Acknowledging the need for road safety measures, Andrews stipulated, "Age discrimination is a serious concern, and any changes in licensing procedures should be based on solid evidence, ensuring the continued safety of our roads without imposing unnecessary burdens on older drivers."

"We require evidence-based solutions for road safety. Indiscriminately penalising older drivers in hopes of reducing driving fatalities is not the answer,” concluded Andrews.

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