Older drivers in Switzerland will enjoy five more years on the road before facing obligatory medical tests. Parliament voted on Wednesday to raise the age from 70 to 75.
Following the approval of the House of Representatives, the Senate voted Wednesday to raise the age at which older drivers are bound to undergo a medical test to determine their roadworthiness.
The change will come into effect by mid-2019 at the latest, and means that all holders of professional and non-professional Swiss licences will undergo a test every two years from the age of 75.
As well as saving on hassle, older drivers will also come out financially better-off: over-70s should save almost CHF300 that they would otherwise have paid for the tests.
Healthier for longer
The motion, based on an initiative by a parliamentarian who himself has just turned 75, was based on the premise that older people are healthier and fitter than before. They are also much less involved in accidents than young drivers, another parliamentarian noted.
Technological advances have also equipped cars with more assisted driving functions than before, said the government, who supported the project. That said, the Swiss president Doris Leuthard said that 70-year-olds affected by the change should still be encouraged to attend classes and advice sessions.
Outright opponents of the idea in parliament were scarce. One Social Democrat Senator, Daniel Jositsch, referred to a study that found the risk posed by over-70-year-olds on the road was significantly higher than those between 60 and 70.
The Swiss Council for Accident Preventionexternal link (bfu), involved in the consolation process, was also circumspect. It is currently conducting a scientific study into consequences of raising the age, and said it would have preferred that the parliament waited for the results before voting.
Alcohol on motorways
In a separate vote on Wednesday the Senate also came out in favour of allowing the sale of alcohol by restaurants and shops in motorway rest-areas.
Until now, establishments situated directly on motorway stopover areas or exits were not permitted to sell alcohol. However, citing changing attitudes to alcohol, as well as the desire not to discriminate against certain restaurants, proponents of the motion managed to push it through with 26 votes for and 14 against.
The Senate thus sent the motion to the cabinet, demanding that it either modify the legislation or come up with a counter-proposal.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/dos