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No, drivers won’t have to retake their driving test every five years because of a new EU law

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Fact-check

CORRECTIV Faktencheck, Germany

19 April 2019, Updated: 22 May 2019

No, drivers won’t have to retake their driving test every five years because of a new EU law

An article making this claim is being shared on social media in Germany. What many users have failed to notice is that the article is an April Fool’s joke.

Has the EU decided that all drivers will have to retake their driving test every five years from 2020 onwards? This was the claim made in an article on the German Auto Zeitung website, dated 1 April 2019: “Drivers will have to retake their driving test every five years in future. This is the new law being proposed by the EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc. The new law is due to come into force in 2020.”

While the first part of the article sounds plausible enough, readers’ suspicions should have been aroused in the second section, which states, “Drivers will have to demonstrate their ability to control their vehicle in a skills test that will require them to reverse into a parking space with one eye closed.” Auto Zeitung later posted an update making it clear that the article had been an April Fool’s joke. The article has since been removed from their website. The Connectiv website copied the Auto Zeitung article and published it without making it clear that it was satire. That article, too, has since been removed.

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The Auto Zeitung article, complete with update clarifying that it was an April Fool’s joke. (Screenshot: CORRECTIV)

This April Fool’s joke is not new

April Fool’s jokes about the alleged introduction of regular repeat driving tests have appeared online on several previous occasions. Last year similar announcements were circulated on 1 April. What seemed to be a newspaper called the “Kölner Abendblatt” proclaimed, “Driving theory test every 5 years from now on”. However, there is no newspaper with that name.

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April Fool’s report in the fictitious Kölner Zeitung, dated 1 April 2018. (Screenshot: CORRECTIV)

Further down the webpage is the information that “This newspaper article was created using the Paul Newsman website. This allows anyone to publish their own satire or joke articles in multiple fictitious magazines within seconds. Under no circumstances, therefore, should you treat this article as a serious source.”

The German Federal Ministry for Transport and the European Commission have both denied the reports

In response to a query by CORRECTIV, both the German Federal Ministry of Transport and the European Commission denied the existence of any new EU law requiring retests for drivers every five years. The Ministry of Transport stated: “The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) has no knowledge of any plans to introduce a law at the European level requiring drivers to take a new test every five years.” The spokesman of the European Commission in Germany wrote, “That is not correct. There is no such EU law, nor are there any plans for one.”

Five-year rule for Heavy Goods Vehicle licences

There is, however, a five-year rule for holders of Class C1, C1E, C or CE heavy goods vehicle driving licences. According to the TÜV Nord website, “These classes of driving licence are only ever valid for 5 years, renewable for a further 5 years on successful completion of a fitness test (health check and ophthalmologist’s report).”

Conclusion

Our assessment:

Wholly untrue. There is no EU law requiring five-yearly driving tests for standard driving licences.

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