Driving licences in Spain are renewed every five to 10 years, depending upon the holder’s age, and a perfunctory medical, coordination and eyesight test is carried out – but the government does not think this examination is thorough enough to detect physical or mental problems that may make them unsafe behind the wheel.
Also, temporary incapacity may occur some years before a licence needs to be renewed, and at present, no procedure exists to prevent the patient from driving unless he or she recognises the situation and chooses not to.
Medical workers are not permitted to give any details of patients’ clinical history to any other party without the subject’s written consent, due to confidentiality rules – other than in certain exceptional cases where a doctor considers the patient may be a danger to others or to him- or herself.
But these exceptional cases could be extended to include driving ability affected by health, when GPs or consultants would be allowed to inform the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) who would then suspend the patient’s licence.
Whilst this may appear intrusive, in practice, most patients have a good relationship with their GPs – and the right to apply to change if they do not – meaning their doctors would almost certainly discuss the situation in full with the affected driver first.
Other aspects of the traffic law reform under debate at the moment include whether or not to make it compulsory for motorcyclists and moped-riders to wear protective jackets and appropriately-safe footwear.