A consultation period is underway on a bill amending regulations for driving licences for young drivers as well as the elderly.
The draft bill provides for granting a learner’s licence at 17, minimum hours of compulsory training for candidate drivers by instructors, as well as annual medical tests for drivers over 75, in order to have their licences renewed. In addition, it regulates the obligations and responsibilities of doctors who issue such health certificates.
As regards learner’s licences, the bill provides that they can be granted at the age of 17, instead at 17.5 according to the existing legislation, to “increase the duration of training of candidate drivers from six months to one year”. The aim is to help trainees acquire more experience and further practice “in low-risk conditions before obtaining a driving licence”. Licences are granted to people over 18 after they successfully pass the relevant tests.
It also provides for minimum mandatory training of between five and seven hours, “for learning proper driving from an instructor to ensure that the trainee driver will gain experience and all the necessary capacities and skills they need to cope with potential risks that may occur when alone behind the wheel”. Existing legislation does not require proof of training as it stipulates that candidate drivers may obtain a licence as long as they successfully pass the driving test and examination for the vehicle category they are interested in obtaining a licence for.
Concerning elderly drivers, the amendment proposes that they must present a health certificate once they reach 73 to be able to have their licence renewed, and annually after 75, “because the health condition of these persons changes rapidly, and it might not allow them to drive safely a motor vehicle and therefore the revocation of their licence might be necessary to protect both themselves and other road users”.
At the moment, legislation provides that drivers must submit medical tests at 70, to be able to renew, and after that, they have to undergo medical tests every three years. For bus and truck drivers, this procedure begins at 65.
The bill proposal also provides for fines up to €5,000 in case doctors issue a health certificate “that does not meet the diagnostic capabilities of his or her specialty”. Doctors who find after a medical examination that a person’s driving ability is below the minimum levels of their physical or mental capability, and fail to inform authorities, face up to a year in prison and or up to a €3,000 fine. Current legislation provides for up to three months’ imprisonment and or up to a €512 fine.
State doctors are obliged to issue medical certificates when asked, and in the case they refuse to do so, it will constitute a disciplinary offence.
The Cyprus Medical Association said that there is a legal gap as regards the provisions on liability, as doctors issue certificates based on the facts and data presented to them when examining a patient, and that if a patient presents a condition after that point, they should not be held responsible. It also said that it was in the process of preparing a proposal for a more holistic approach, based on good practices of other EU countries, to eliminate the possibility of mistakes.
The consultation period ends on May 6.
Last month after a 77-year-old man was caught driving dangerously, police discovered that the road transport department had him registered as dead. It emerged that the man, who was caught in the past for driving dangerously and who was called for a medical, may have forged a death certificate to avoid the examination. According to reports, instead of appearing for the test, the department received a letter saying the 77-year-old was dead, signed by a relative and accompanied with a death certificate as proof.