Should Senior Citizens have to prove their fitness to drive every 5 years? Two Würzburg seniors share their thoughts.

Confusing intersections, turning left, staying in lane – that causes problems for many older drivers, says Ralf Steinbacher. The regional chairman of the state association of Bavarian driving instructors for the Würzburg and Main-Spessart region regularly carries out driving fitness checks on seniors on behalf of the ADAC. His experience: Those who take part in these checks are usually fit. Unsafe drivers would not dare, says Steinbacher.

So far, such check-ups have been voluntary. If the EU has its way, over 70-year-olds should prove their fitness to drive every five years. Also the traffic control classifies this group of people in road traffic as “particularly at risk”. But what do older people think about the driver’s license TÜV? That’s what two Würzburg seniors say.

Gertrud Roehl, 85 years old: She has just handed in her driver’s license – voluntarily

“I always knew that I would give up my driver’s license, this April I was ready,” says Gertrud Roehl. She still feels physically and mentally fit, but doesn’t want to take any more risks: “I have cataracts and the older you get, the worse your eyesight gets. I can’t expect that from others anymore.” If your eyesight deteriorates, older drivers no longer notice whether a car is coming from the side. Reaction behavior also decreases, says the 85-year-old.

Everyday life without a car – Roehl, who drove her car every day for 45 years, has come to terms with that. “Supermarkets, doctors, everything is around me, I can walk there.” She had previously lived at the Hexenbruch in Höchberg. Because there is no longer a grocery store there, she moved to the city center to be self-employed for longer – even without a driver’s license.

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There are also advantages to not having a car: “I spent half an hour looking for a parking space in the city, despite the resident parking permit. That was a disaster. Then park backwards, the parking space has to be right. I damaged the mirror twice, which had to I’ll pay then.” For her, that was a signal that things were getting more difficult.

You know older people who depend on the car and are delaying the delivery of their driver’s license for as long as possible. Roehl has no understanding of the fact that some of them should no longer drive a car for health reasons. “The only thing that remains is to check fitness to drive with a health check. But the mobility of old people should be maintained.”

Gabriele Schraut-Götz, 90 years old: She keeps her driving license for her self-employment

Gabriele Schraut-Götz says she cannot do without her driver’s license: “For me, it is part of the independence and independence that I still have in old age. I need it. I live in such a way that I can’t walk to my daily errands without it car can do.” To get to the bus stop, she had to walk up a hill. It’s too exhausting with shopping bags. She has adapted her driving behavior to her abilities: “I no longer drive long distances.” She also refrains from driving in the dark.

Is she afraid of missing the right time to submit her driver’s license? “I know for sure when I will no longer be able to drive a car on my own,” says the 90-year-old. “And that’s when my cognitive abilities are declining.” Warning signals are for them if they no longer perceive other road users or have problems with their eyes.

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Without a driver’s license, they “would lose a huge part of their quality of life”. But, says the senior citizen: “If I have to give up my driver’s license, then so be it.”

She saw with a 91-year-old friend how quickly an accident can happen. “He knew the track very well, there was a construction site 20 kilometers from his destination and he crashed into another car.” The friend was taken to the hospital unconscious – “and never woke up”. Just two days before, she asked him if he really wanted to drive the route to his holiday home in one go, reports the Würzburg native.

The 90-year-old thinks it makes sense to have a driver’s license TÜV, as proposed by the EU Commission. “Older people often find the plans discriminatory, but it’s important to look at the matter objectively and soberly. The statistics say that a higher percentage of accidents are caused by older people.”

Driving instructor Ralf Steinbacher: Driving routine is more important than a mandatory test

Driving instructor Ralf Steinbacher also refers to figures from the Federal Statistical Office: “Drivers over the age of 75 are responsible for three out of four accidents in which they are involved.” But, says Steinbacher: Especially in rural areas, mobility is “a very valuable asset”.

He is critical of a driver’s license TÜV for one reason in particular: All types of roads would have to be driven during a standardized test drive. “We would not only drive in the city, but also on the freeway and country roads. Even if someone no longer drives there.” According to Steinbacher, many seniors change their driving behavior of their own accord and avoid corners that unsettle them. Maintaining the driving routine is better than mandatory tests, and uncertainties can be reduced through training.

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