Elderly Drivers: Japan Opens Its First License Renewal Center Dedicated to Seniors

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Faced with an aging population and an increase in the number of elderly drivers, Japan has opened its very first license renewal center dedicated to drivers over the age of 70. Located in the city of Saitama, seniors will be able to take driving courses and attend lectures there.

An increase in road accidents for the first time in eight years

In Japan, the number of road accidents increased by 7,072 compared to the previous year, reaching 307,911 in 2023. The number of deaths, although still low, also increased, reaching 2,678 cases in 2023. People over the age of 65 account for 54.7% of these deaths.

These incidents are due to two main factors: the importance of cars in Japanese transportation and the ageing population. Giving up driving is a difficult decision for many seniors, as they rely on their vehicles daily.

Although elderly drivers are already required to undergo senior training when renewing their licenses, it is not enough to significantly reduce the number of accidents. In 2009, Japan implemented cognitive function evaluation tests for people over the age of 75.

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Long waiting times to attend these training sessions

Typically, these training sessions are conducted in standard centers, leading to long waiting times due to the presence of many young drivers and the continuous increase in the number of seniors. According to the Saitama Prefecture, the number of elderly drivers renewing their licenses increased by 50% between 2014 and 2023. Although sessions are available six months before the renewal deadline, the average waiting time was about 30 days in April.

This situation prompted the government to open the first license renewal center entirely dedicated to seniors. The opening of this facility aims to reduce the waiting time for the necessary training sessions for seniors’ license renewals and to raise awareness about the decline in cognitive and physical abilities, thus promoting safer driving.

This first center dedicated to drivers aged 70 and over can accommodate 300 people per day (120 for courses and 180 for tests) and approximately 75,000 per year.

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