Stricter driving license rules for over-65s in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
over 65s driving

MADRID – Do you recall the date your driver’s licence requires renewal? With a ten-year extension period in Spain, many wouldn’t. But, those aged 65 and older face a more complex situation. 

Stricter regulations have been set in motion in Spain for drivers aged over 65. The Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) proposes augmenting assessments and reducing the driving licence renewal period from a decade to every two years, aiming to enhance road safety. 

According to the DGT, these enhanced measures necessitate senior drivers undergoing an array of additional checks to maintain their road privileges. Moreover, the objective is to mitigate the number of fatalities on Spanish roads. 

Spain boasts over 27 million drivers, of which 5.2 million have crossed the age threshold of 65, as per the DGT’s 2021 driver census. Therefore, if you’re approaching or have already reached this age bracket, the lifespan of your driver’s license drops to a five-year period from 65 years onwards. 

Also read: What is the legal blood alcohol limit in Spain? 

Nonetheless, this renewal process entails more than just acquiring a fresh driving licence. All procedures, encompassing the psycho-technical test, must be re-attempted. Furthermore, the validity of the driver’s licence can be further curtailed to two years if the driver is battling certain physical ailments or severe health disorders. 

But why this alteration? 

An increase in life expectancy has led to a surge in older drivers on the roads. María José Aparicio, deputy director of traffic education and training at the DGT, cautioned, “30% of fatalities in road accidents across the European Union involve individuals aged over 65.” 

In Spain alone, they accounted for 28% of road fatalities in 2019, added Aparicio. Without intervention, the numbers could worsen due to the ageing population, warns the DGT’s deputy director. 

With the new legislation, the DGT will mandate older drivers to successfully pass additional medical and physical tests. This is the sole method to confirm they still possess the required skills to drive securely for themselves and fellow motorists. 

Health complications 

Furthermore, the DGT has highlighted numerous health complications that could affect driving competence and thus curtail the validity of the driver’s license. These include heart and respiratory conditions, chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, certain degenerative, vascular, oncological and endocrine disorders, severe psychiatric conditions, visual impairments and neurological issues like loss of consciousness and epilepsy. 

Unavoidable impacts of ageing 

Coupled with health issues, the DGT points to the unavoidable impacts of ageing that can hamper road safety. These consist of stiffness in muscles and joints, diminishing reflexes, night-time vision challenges, hearing problems, difficulty multitasking, and discomfort driving in unfamiliar, congested areas or under stressful situations. These elements could lead to heightened fatigue, challenges in promptly reading signs and abiding by traffic signals, and difficulties navigating in poor weather conditions. 

How to renew your driving license? 

The renewal of the driving licence must be carried out at a Medical Recognition Centre authorised by the DGT. Here, the concerned individual will take a psycho-technical examination. Alongside, photographs of the driver are taken and a fee is charged for the medical examination.

Once the psycho-technical examination is approved and procedures are completed, a temporary driving licence is issued. This licence is valid until the final permit arrives by post, which should be within a six-week timeframe. 

Source: El Periodico 

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