Seniors at the wheel: Should a medical check-up be imposed on seniors?

the essential
In France, 64% of people aged 65 and over own a car. However, as mentioned above, the elderly are only responsible for less than 10% of fatal accidents. Age or a simple precautionary measure, the issue of conditional leave to a medical check-up for the elderly continues to make people shudder.

How old can you drive? A question that appears regularly on the carpet and continues to divide the French. Recently, it was tennis champion Pauline Déroulède who revived this eternal debate. It must be said that the thirty-year-old girl lost her leg in a serious car accident caused by a ninety-year-old. “In 2018, a 92-year-old man hit me while sitting on my scooter. This man simply lost control of his vehicle due to his advanced age. My left leg was ripped off at the time of the impact “, remembers the young champion.

Since this tragic accident, Pauline Déroulède has been fighting two side battles. A sports project, to get a medal at the Paris Paralympic Games in 2024 in the category of wheelchair tennis, and a social project, to pass a law on driving tests for all drivers. “I want the driving record to be opened and France to join other European countries with the obligation of a medical examination in certain cases of risk: old age or taking medication,” he advocates. In France, only people with certain illnesses have to undergo a regular medical check-up, after which the renewal of the driving license can be limited or denied.

A stigmatized population

If in most European countries, the permits have, since 2013, a period of validity, with no age limit, several of them condition their extension to medical examinations. This is the case in Italy and Portugal from the age of 50 or even in Greece from the age of 65. Others are even stricter, such as Hungary, which requires a regular medical examination from the age of 40. “For more than three years, I have been fighting for these tests. Too many drivers still take the wheel when they are out of shape. It’s time to dump her and move on. The aim of this campaign is to make as many people as possible aware of these accidents, which are nevertheless preventable “, insists the champion.

A claim that resonates with many French people. According to an OpinionWay study for Dekra, 79% of French people are in favor of the possibility of the elderly being evaluated in a course with a professional and 75% of the introduction of a medical examination that validates the ability to drive, which is mandatory and mandatory. renewable.

The most vulnerable drivers

Are older people so dangerous? However, the statistics show otherwise. In 2020, according to the National Interministerial Road Safety Observatory (ONISR), 643 elderly people lost their lives on the tricolor roads, ie 25% of all road deaths while only representing 19% of the population. On the other hand, 65-74 year olds are only responsible for a fatal accident in less than 10% of cases, compared to 19.2% between 18-24 year olds.

Are the great victims of less veiled edatism less dangerous, but more vulnerable? The question needs to be asked. Especially because older people are more experienced drivers who, aware of their own limitations, know how to adapt their driving. Because obviously we must not deny that with age, the peps of health multiply. For Sylvie Bonin-Guillaume, a university professor specializing in geriatrics, the problem is not age but illness. “There should be no confusion between the two. These are the pathologies that contraindicate driving. It is true that the elderly are more prone to disease, but this is not the case for everyone,” he insists. control at any age would be fairer and less stigmatizing, not to mention that for this category of population the car is still synonymous with autonomy and independence, mobility needed to age well.

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