Japan’s seniors offered funeral discounts and other incentives to give up driving

Sleepiness. Rheumatism. Forgetfulness. Dizziness. Add these to driving and chances are it’s enough to cause a road disaster. Let’s face it; driving becomes more difficult as people age.

With the rapid increase in numbers of road accidents in Japan caused by the involvement of elderly drivers, the government is encouraging the seniors to surrender their driver’s license to get a funeral service discount in return.

The Japan Times has reported an almost 4.8 million license holders over the age of 75 in 2015; doubling its number during the past decade. It is alarming to note that from 7.7 percent of fatal traffic accidents that these elderly drivers are accounted for in 2007, it has risen to 13.2 percent in 2016, Prefectural Police recorded.

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In November, a 6-year-old boy died and 11 others were injured after a pickup truck driven by an 87-year-old mowed down the children walking to school in Yokohama, Tokyo. The senior later stated that he “didn’t remember where he had been”. In other cases, elderly drivers have confused the accelerator with the brake pedal.

Meanwhile, Kyodo news service reports that there are some parts of the country, particularly the central Aichi Prefecture, that offers incentives, specifically funeral discounts, to seniors who give up driving.

Provided that the elderly surrenders his driver’s license, he must also show a proof issued by the police to the company – who runs 89 funeral homes across Japan – to get the 15% discount. Other incentives include discounts to taxi rides, public sauna baths, and Japan’s favorite Ramen to some restaurants.

Moreover, to reinforce the purpose, Japan this month has passed a law that obliges the elderly to pass cognitive or mental tests when renewing their licenses.