Mexico City requires driving tests for first time

AFP-JIJI

Mexico City has 4 million cars on the road already, but only now will it require people to pass a test before getting behind the wheel, finally bringing the capital in line with international standards.

The sprawling city of 9 million people has until now given a driver’s license to anyone who supplied official ID, proof of residence and a fee of about $50.

But under a new law adopted Monday, they will have to pass tests of their driving ability, vision and understanding of the rules of the road — exams that have long been required in most countries.

Mexico’s roads are among the most dangerous in the world. Last year road accidents killed 17,000 people, or nearly 50 a day, according to advocacy group Mexico Previene.

“The measure will restore the value of the driver’s license as the official document that it is,” said municipal transport secretary Rufino Leon Tovar.

The law is part of a package of transport measures signed by leftist Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera, and is expected to come into force in November or December, officials said.

Previously only applicants between 15 and 17 years old had to pass a driving skills test. Others were able to walk away with a driver’s license after about 15 minutes of paperwork.

Those renewing their current licenses will be exempt from the tests.

Under the new law, drivers can also have their licenses suspended if they are caught driving drunk twice in one year.