Japan is trying to get doddering drivers to give up their licences

Mar 01, 2018

AFTER nearly half a century behind the wheel, Hisao Matsumoto, who is 85, is not ready to stop driving. He and his wife depend on their car to escape the confines of Hakone, the lakeside town where they live. Horror stories of pile-ups involving elderly drivers do not ruffle him. “I’m not that old yet,” he says. “I still have 15 more years to go till I reach 100.”

Mr Matsumoto is one of more than 5m drivers in Japan aged 75 or older. A million more will be on the roads by 2021. Unnerved, the police are trying to coax many out of their cars. Over-75s are twice as likely to cause a fatal accident as younger drivers, says the National Police Agency (NPA). Nearly half of older drivers who caused fatal accidents last year had signs of cognitive impairment.

Hundreds of older drivers turn the wrong way into motorways every year. In January an 85-year-old man steered his vehicle into oncoming traffic on a country road, hitting a car and mowing down two schoolgirls. Police believe he...

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