Almost half the elderly drivers who caused fatal traffic
accidents in Japan last year were considered to have cognitive
impairments such as dementia, police data showed Thursday.
Of 385 such drivers aged 75 and over, 28 were suspected of
having dementia and 161 may have had reduced cognitive functions,
according to the National Police Agency. They were among people who
took a cognitive test required by law when they renewed their
Japan, which has seen a rise in serious traffic accidents
involving elderly drivers in recent years, introduced tougher
screenings in March. Authorities suspend or take away the licenses
of drivers diagnosed with dementia.
The 28 drivers who showed signs of dementia were likely to have
been awaiting diagnosis by doctors.
Family members (of senior drivers) might feel when they ride in
cars driven by the seniors that the risk of accidents is high,
Hachiro Okonogi, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission,
told a news conference Thursday.
It is extremely important that such family members suggest to
the senior drivers that they should avoid driving.
Noting the correlation between serious accidents and a decline
in drivers cognitive function, the NPA has been urging elderly
drivers to voluntarily give up their licenses.
The latest police data showed 194 people died in accidents
caused by those thought to have been suffering from dementia or
There were 418 fatal accidents last year caused by drivers aged
75 or older, including those who have not yet taken the cognitive
Of these accidents, 41 percent involved vehicle collisions and
19 percent were collisions between vehicles and pedestrians.
Running into guardrails or falling into runnels accounted about 40
As for causes of accidents, the highest was driving errors with
31 percent, such as erroneously stepping on the accelerator or
The revised Road Traffic Act came into force in March and
introduced tougher tests for drivers aged 75 years or older to
detect signs of dementia.
They are required to take the cognitive test when they renew
their license or if they are ticketed for certain traffic
The cognitive test checks memory and judgment.
For example, those taking the test are shown an illustration and
then asked a while later to recall what it looked like.
They are also asked to draw an illustration of a clock showing a
specific time. The test classifies the drivers into three groups,
and the ones suspected of having dementia are required to undergo a
more detailed test by a doctor....