Japan's top official to return driver's license

Japan's top official to return driver's license

Satoshi Ninoyu, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, said he will return his driver's license in the hope that other elderly drivers will follow suit in the name of public safety.

Satoshi Ninoyu, a Upper House member, said at a regular news conference on May 12.

It came after a spate of traffic accidents caused by elderly drivers - a problem that has been magnified by Japan's rapidly aging population.

Ninoyu, who will turn 78 in September, said he will not renew his driver's license, even though he is eligible to do so.

He said he had a notice informing him that he must take a driving course and undergo cognitive tests before his license can be renewed.

I am elderly and I shouldn't cause a traffic accident, so I decided to give up my license, he said. I live in an urban area, so there are buses, subways and cabs. After consulting with his wife, Ninoyu stopped driving and has let go of his car in April 2019 after a fatal accident in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district.

A former government bureaucrat who was 87 at the time drove his car at high speed into two intersections on a red light. A mother and a daughter were killed in the accident, while nine others were injured.

He said he kept pressing the accelerator instead of the brake pedal. The car had accelerated up to 96 kph.

The revised road traffic law was put in force on May 13, which was designed to deal with the growing severity of traffic accidents involving elderly drivers.

A driving skill test is required at the time of license renewal for those aged 75 or older with a certain number of violations. They are required to drive through a course and pass various tasks, such as stopping at stop signs and turning left and right at intersections.

Only those with a passing score can renew their licenses.

It also introduces a limited driver's license, which allows holders to drive only vehicles with safety support functions, such as automatic brakes.