In Germany, A Call For Sending Seniors Back To Driving School

Accidents involving drivers over 65 are on the rise in Berlin, prompting one researcher to call for mandatory “mobility checks.” Under the plan, seniors would have to take regular skills tests. The expert says older drivers should also receive required me

Caution: Granny on board (Pim Geerts)
Caution: Granny on board (Pim Geerts)


BERLIN -- Germany is once again considering the possibility of instituting "mobility checks' for older drivers. The impetus in this case was a recent accident in Berlin involving a 70-year-old driver who collapsed at the wheel and crashed into some parked vehicles.

According to police figures cited in the Berliner Morgenpost, a local paper, the number of accidents in the German capital involving drivers over 65 has been steadily increasing for years. The total number of accidents in 2011 involving seniors was 13,506 -- about 10% of all accidents in Berlin. In 2001, seniors were involved in just 7,374 accidents. Police claim that 64% of these accidents are caused by the seniors themselves.

Siegfried Brockmann, an accident researcher for an association of German insurers, called for mandatory "mobility checks' for older people. The checks would involve regular tests of driving skills with experienced trainers. Brockmann told the Berliner Morgenpost that the checks "yield astonishing results, they're the equivalent of a rejuvenation cure."

He also called for mandatory medical examinations. The results should remain confidential, but doctors could nevertheless use them to determine whether an individual is still fit to drive. "There are no objective criteria as to whether someone is still fit to drive a car or not. Every doctor decides subjectively," said Brockmann. The expert believes the rising accident figures are a sign of changing demographics, and that in the next 30 years the number of accidents caused by seniors will be much higher.

Brockmann also said that the 65- to 75-year-old age group represented relatively little risk: in fact, they cause fewer accidents than beginning drivers. After 75, however, the risk rises sharply due to factors such as weaker vision, slower reactions and diminished capacity to gauge complex traffic situations accurately, according to the researcher.

Nevertheless, Germany's automobile association, ADAC, came out against legal measures. "Many older people depend on a car to maintain a social life," Jörg Becker, the ADAC head of traffic, told the paper.

Along with regular medical check-ups, he said, seniors could stay ahead of the game by learning how to make better use of technology such as parking assistance programs and warning systems to head off collisions. The ADAC has been offering special driver training courses for seniors since February.

Read the full story in German by Dominik Ehrentraut

Photo - Pim Geerts

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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