Düsseldorf (dpa/lnw) – Around 38,600 seniors over 60 years of age were recorded in North Rhine-Westphalia in the years 2020 to 2022 as the main cause of traffic accidents – 560 of them were even in the 90 to 100 age group. Last year alone, 177 very old people in this age group were the main cause of accidents. This emerges from a response from the NRW Ministry of Transport published in Düsseldorf on Thursday to a request from the AfD parliamentary group.

The reason was a sensational accident caused by an 84-year-old SUV driver on the edge of the Christmas market on Düsseldorf’s Königsallee. The senior drove into a crowd in November. Four people were injured in the accident, two pedestrians were temporarily in mortal danger. The AfD opposition then wanted to know: “How many senior citizens give up their driver’s license in North Rhine-Westphalia voluntarily because of their age?”

According to data from the Federal Motor Transport Authority in Flensburg, in the years 2015 to 2021 in NRW there were a total of around 23,500 driver’s license holders aged 60 and over – including around 62 percent men. According to this, in 2021 alone, a total of 3762 people aged 60 and over gave up their driving license – including 333 aged 90 and over. A total of 2,316 men and women in the 80+ age group abstained.

You can’t force it, even in old age. “The driver’s license in Germany is granted for an unlimited period of time – with the exception of bus and truck driver’s license classes,” said Transport Minister Oliver Krischer (Greens). “In particular, older people get a driver’s license mobility and flexibility, it ensures their independence and autonomy and is often a prerequisite for maintaining social contacts over long distances,” he replied to the AfD. This also applies to rural areas in particular.

“On the other hand, there is the fact that every person – individually very different – can eventually reach a point in time when they are no longer fit to drive,” emphasized the minister. The state government relies on information, voluntariness and strengthening personal responsibility to ensure that older road users are fit to drive. How many seniors voluntarily had their fitness to drive checked is not statistically recorded. Driver assistance systems could also make an important contribution to safe driving by regulating speed, distance and staying in lane.