France to reduce minimum driving age to 17

  • June 27, 2023

The French government has announced it will reduce the minimum age for getting a driving license to 17 from next year.  ETSC says the move could make road safety worse in France where the level of road deaths among young people is already among the highest in Europe.  

According to an analysis by ETSC, 82 young people (aged 15-30) are killed per million inhabitants of that age group in France each year.  Only Romania, Greece, Poland, Croatia and Bulgaria have a worse rate among countries tracked by ETSC.  

The death rate among this age group in France is also nearly twice as high as the rate for the rest of the population, one of the largest differences among European countries.  

The younger a person starts unrestricted solo driving, the more likely it is that he or she will have a fatal collision, particularly below 18 years old. The recommended minimum age for solo driving a car in the EU is currently 18. Only Austria, Denmark, Hungary and Ireland apply an exception to allow 17-year-olds to drive unaccompanied.  Individual drivers in Finland can also apply for permission to obtain their license at 17.   

The European Commission proposed a revision to the EU’s Driving Licence Directive in March. ETSC is firmly against any lowering of the minimum age for solo driving for any type of road user. 

  • The French Victims’ Guarantee Fund has said the number of drivers involved in road collisions without insurance in France rose by 44% between 2017 and 2022.