Want to keep your driving licence in the EU? Get a clean bill of health, say European lawmakers, who on Tuesday debate whether to force drivers to pass medical exams.

The proposal has sparked outrage in France, the European Union's second-largest economy, despite already being the case in more than half of all EU states.

More than 20,000 people die every year on the EU's roads, while around 160,000 are seriously injured.

Some European Parliament members believe changing the rules will help lower those figures, and make roads safer across the 27-member bloc.

The lawmakers propose that motorcycle, car and tractor drivers get a medical check every 15 years, while bus and truck users would have to seek a doctor's green light every five years.

Green EU lawmaker Karima Delli said the law "is not intended to annoy", and that the medical checks would be "free" and "simple".

She explained that doctors would check "drivers' sight, hearing and reflexes", and that the measure would target everyone as soon as they get their licence -- not just the oldest.

Pauline Deroulede, a tennis player who will represent France in this year's Paralympic Games, vehemently supports such a change.

She lost her left leg in 2018 after a car driven by a ninety-something, who confused the accelerator for the brake, hit her.

"My life was shattered," she told journalists.

The driver "knew he was no longer able to drive but put it off. He told me if there had been a law, he would have respected it."

Delli said 14 EU countries already demand checks, from the age of 50 in Italy and 40 in Portugal.

But the French automotive association says the measure is "openly hostile" to drivers, while some European lawmakers also oppose it.

Far-right lawmaker Jean-Paul Garraud said medical checks would be "very restrictive and costly" for citizens.

The proposal is part of the European road safety strategy, which aims to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on European roads by 50 percent by 2030, with the ultimately more ambitious aim of achieving zero deaths by 2050.

The EU also wants to introduce bloc-wide digital driving licences, that would be accessible via a smartphone and would have the same value as a physical permit.

MEPs will vote on the draft text on Wednesday but will discuss the legislation further in the next parliament after European elections in June.