Ramen could Save Lives? How to Reduce Seniors Car Accidents in Japan
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Since October 2016, Japanese media has been reporting car accidents caused by senior drivers. Has the number of accidents increased? What can government do to resolve this problem?
Stat and Recent Accidents
Here are some recent traffic accidents caused by senior drivers.
October 27, 2016 in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
The 87-year-old driver hit elementary school students and killed one child and injured 6 individuals, including 4 children. It appeared he drove all night but didn’t remember clearly. He might have dementia.
November 12, 2016 in Tachikawa city, Tokyo
The 83 year-old female driver killed two individuals in the parking at hospital. She didn’t have dementia but stepped on the gas pedal when she was supposed to step on the break pedal.
November 14, 2016 in Tsukuba city, Ibaraki Prefecture
The 77 year-old driver hit a passenger vehicle by his pickup truck and killed the 64-years male driver. The vehicle turned over and another vehicle was involved.
Statistic shows that the percentage of fatal car accidents caused by drivers who are 75 years or over was 6.2% in 2004, while it increased up to 12.9% in 2014. The number has been increasing every year.
Problems with Surrendering Driver’s License
What are the problems if the elderly surrender their driver’s license?
No Public Transportation
One of the biggest problems senior drivers face is that they will lose a mean of transportation. This is extremely serious in rural area as there is no sufficient public transportation system.
They cannot go grocery shopping, drug store or hospital when needed.
No Support from Family
Those elderly usually don’t live with their children or family. Thus they have to drive wherever they go and they have no one to rely on.
If they live with their children, for instance, they don’t have to drive. However, young people tend to move to cities and don’t stay in their hometown.
Ramen Discount in Aichi Prefecture
In order to reduce traffic accidents by seniors, Aichi Prefecture has been promoting different kinds of discounts. Those discount can be received after the seniors surrender their driver’s license.
Sugokiya, the Aichi-based Ramen company, started to offer 10% discount to seniors who have surrendered their driver’s license.
The Ramen restaurant has 176 locations within Aichi Prefecture and Aichi Police is hoping to reduce the number of serious car accidents caused by seniors.
Request Cognitive Test
On November 15th Japanese government announced that they will enforce law for senior drivers as a result of recent accidents.
With enforced law, those seniors who violate traffic regulations will be required to take a cognitive exam if they are 75 years or older.
Drive Vehicles with Autopilot System
It doesn’t guarantee but Autopilot system might reduce the number of fatal accidents. Senior drivers can simply tell destination and the vehicle takes them there without driving.
Seniors must drive cars if they live in countryside. The problem is that other drivers and pedestrians might get involved and killed by accidents.
The elderly react slowly compared to younger individuals. Thus I hope they understand their physical limitation as well as reaction time.
They shouldn’t be over-confident or careless. I do hope government will work on developing public transportation system or some sort of carpool.
Ultimately, Autopilot vehicle, like Tesla, could be one of the solutions.
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