Asia Minute: Caution with Older Drivers in Japan

Jun 24, 2019

Credit W. Robert Howell / CC BY-ND 2.0 / Flickr

According to a national report out last week, Hawaii is the third most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians over the age of 50. The report from the advocacy group “Smart Growth America” found older pedestrians are three times more likely to be killed than people under 50. For another island community in the Pacific, there’s a renewed focus on safety and older drivers.

Drivers in Japan over the age of 75 cause more than twice as many fatal traffic accidents than younger drivers. That finding is part of a new government report highlighting one issue facing a rapidly aging population.

Young drivers, those between the ages of 16 and 19, are still the group most at risk of causing fatal accidents. This was all part of a government white paper on traffic safety that was approved by Japan’s Cabinet on Friday.

The report also had specific suggestions — including installing automatic braking systems into cars for older drivers. The brake would kick into operation when a driver suddenly accelerates. Researchers found that elderly drivers involved in fatal accidents often stomped on the gas instead of the brake.

The white paper also suggested that the government support efforts to allow older people to live more easily without having to drive — adding:

“It is essential to build a society that allows senior citizens to live independently despite the degradation of their physical abilities due to aging, supported by advanced technologies and other means.”

Some of those means include wider use of ride sharing and continued development of self-driving vehicles.