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Why I am in favour of tighter licence controls for drivers in France

A reader gives feedback on how the UK and France’s driving licence controls differ

France does have rules for elderly drivers, but it is suggested that they often get overlooked Pic: Toa55 / Shutterstock

You recently asked for feedback on whether a driving licence should be for life, as it is in France. 

The UK has one of the lowest rates of road traffic accidents in the world (corrected for confounding variables such as traffic density). 

This is partly due to the DVLA’s medical standards for fitness to drive, which are checked when licences are renewed and when seeing a doctor for a significant medical condition. 

There are also rules in France for medical fitness to drive, but to me they do not seem as comprehensive as the UK rules; they are noted when applying for the first driving licence, but seem to be neglected afterwards. 

Read more: Should older drivers in France undergo medical checks? Your feedback

A friend was assessed as needing a cataract operation, which should be a red flag for driving. 

Yet neither her ophthalmologist nor optician told her to stop. 

She also had significant cognitive impairment, another reason to stop driving (although this may not have been known to the medical services), and suffered from suspected blackouts. 

However, she continued driving until she became too scared to leave the house due to frailty. 

Another friend’s mother was still driving despite rapidly progressing dementia, until I suggested she should stop. 

Thus, I am wholly in favour of limiting the duration of a permis de conduire, along with greater clarification, awareness and attention to medical fitness to drive. 

The DVLA has a webpage to inform on people who are driving against medical advice, and I am astonished the French do not have an equivalent, although there is advice to phone the police about dangerous driving. 

Our visually impaired friend changed her dented, scraped Renault Clio for a Twingo. I am now very careful around these cars.

Simon Croxson 

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