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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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Forced Labor, Forced Exile: The Cuban Professionals Sent Abroad To Work, Never To Return

Noel, a Cuban engineer who had to emigrate to the faraway island of Saint Lucia, tells about the Cuban government's systematic intimidation techniques and coercion of its professionals abroad. He now knows he can never go back to his native island — lest he should never be allowed to leave Cuba again.

Forced Labor, Forced Exile: The Cuban Professionals Sent Abroad To Work, Never To Return

Next stop, Saint Lucia

Laura Rique Valero

Daniela* was just one year old when she last played with her father. In a video her mother recorded, the two can be seen lying on the floor, making each other laugh.

Three years have passed since then. Daniela's sister, Dunia*, was born — but she has never met her father in person, only connecting through video calls. Indeed, between 2019 and 2023, the family changed more than the two little girls could understand.

"Dad, are you here yet? I'm crazy excited to talk to you."

"Dad, I want you to call today and I'm going to send you a kiss."

"Dad, I want you to come for a long time. I want you to call me; call me, dad."

Three voice messages which Daniela has left her father, one after the other, on WhatsApp this Saturday. His image appears on the phone screen, and the two both light up.

The girls can’t explain what their father looks like in real life: how tall or short or thin he is, how he smells or how his voice sounds — the real one, not what comes out of the speaker. Their version of their dad is limited to a rectangular, digital image. There is nothing else, only distance, and problems that their mother may never share with them.

In 2020, Noel*, the girls' father, was offered a two-to-three-year employment contract on a volcanic island in the Caribbean, some 2,000 kilometers from Cuba. The family needed the money. What came next was never in the plans.

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