Discounts offered to Japanese elderly who return driver licenses

Discounts offered to Japanese elderly who return driver licenses
TODAY file photo
Published: 10:26 AM, March 20, 2017
Updated: 1:15 PM, March 20, 2017

JAPAN — With traffic accidents involving elderly drivers becoming a serious problem in Japan, initiatives are spreading to encourage seniors to voluntarily give up their licenses if they feel their driving is becoming erratic.

Heiankaku Co, a ceremony service company in Aichi Prefecture, started a 15 per cent discount from March 1 at its 89 funeral homes within the central Japanese prefecture for people who hold proof, issued by police, that they have returned their licenses, as well as for their family members and close relatives.

People residing outside the prefecture can also receive the discount, according to the company, which has teamed up with a local police station to promote the initiative.

Drivers aged 75 or older accounted for 13.2 per cent of fatal traffic accidents in Aichi in 2016, up from 7.7 per cent in 2007, according to the prefectural police.

Some of those accidents involved elderly drivers confusing the gas and brake pedals or mistakenly putting the vehicle into reverse.

The return rate of driver's licenses for elderly drivers was 2.15 per cent in 2015 in Aichi, the 32nd lowest among Japan's 47 prefectures.

Similar efforts are under way in Osaka Prefecture, western Japan, where elderly drivers who return their licenses are receiving discounts for goods and services at local shops and funeral homes.

Such measures appear to be having an effect, with Osaka having the highest return rate for licenses at 5.41 per cent in 2015. KYODO NEWS