crime

78-year-old man who drove wrong way on expressway, causing fatal crash, sent to prosecutors

41 Comments

Nara prefectural police have sent a case to public prosecutors involving a 78-year-old man who drove his car the wrong way along an expressway, and hit another car head-on, killing the 35-year-old driver, in January.

The accident occurred at around 12:40 a.m. on Jan 6 on the Nishi-Meihan Expressway at Yamatokoriyama, Sankei Shimbun reported. The elderly driver, who is from Ikaruga in Nara Prefecture, faces a charge of dangerous driving resulting in death.

According to the prosecutors’ papers, the man crossed over into the oncoming lane when he passed another car. He collided with a light car driven by Kazunari Okita, a company employee from Yao in Osaka Prefecture. Okita was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. The 78-year-old man sustained head injuries.

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41 Comments
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Another old person that has no business driving causing death and misery. They need to crack down on elderly drivers who are a risk to the public.

16 ( +21 / -5 )

I am going to guess that the 78 year-old guy was already too old to drive safely. RIP to Okita. This is one of my greatest fears when travelling in Japan's roads, you won't know when accidents like these will happen or how bad they will be.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

The elderly here are so stubborn that they think they can drive, then they kill people. Needs to be much harsher penalties for these morons, like severely reduce their pension etc

2 ( +15 / -13 )

I’ve driven thousands of miles this year and can feel fatigue much more keenly in my fifties than earlier ages

I cannot begin to comprehend what a driver in their late seventies would be feeling, but it isn’t positive…

17 ( +21 / -4 )

A blanket ban on older drivers would not be fair but more regular testing would be a good idea. A re-test at least every 2 years after 75 could weed out those that shouldn't be behind the wheel.

My mother in law is 86, the family are keen for her to hang up the keys. She regularly drives to the shops and hospital appointments etc as she lives in a very rural area. I sat with her as she drove back in March to test her driving. She was flawless but told me that she will not renew her license next year.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Notice that they ain't revealing the old men's name.

Gotta be a first class citizen.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

@kurisupisu

I cannot begin to comprehend what a driver in their late seventies would be feeling

I'd guess he was feeling rather drunk. If I see an elderly driver sticker or a white kei farm truck I just assume they've been sipping Ozeki One Cups all day. I've had so many near misses over the years.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Its been a while, but clearly not a problem that has been solved.

Test the elderly every 3-6 months. They should not have the same rules as younger drivers. It’s not being unfair, that’s just science.

Old age is undefeated. They’ll always take over one’s judgment or memory at some point. It never fails.

Either that or get these self driving cars out REAL quick like. We’re all going to need them in the future.

This whole deal could’ve been avoided with enforced stricter rules in place. But now an innocent man is dead, and nothing can be done about that anymore.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

By the article it is not clear that age is a factor.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It's almost always the old ones at the wheel that give me grief when I drive to work.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Driving over 65 should be illegal unless the elderly can prove clearly they can handle driving. After 70 then no exceptions. Whey should a 35 year old lose his life because a 78 year impaired driver due to age wants to drive? At least this old guy is not denying what he did unlike the guy in Tokyo who ran over a family and then blamed the car instead of himself for killing innocent people.

You can see confused elderly drivers everyday on the roads, for example stopping at green lights or drifting into other lanes. See this everyday. Sure much of the deaths caused by elderly drivers in Japan goes unreported.

-4 ( +9 / -13 )

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that he'll get a suspended sentence. After all, Japanese justice system works for some!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

There is testing for over 70s already; after passing 70 years of age you have to take a test for licence renewal and then every three years thereafter, at least that's how it was for me. The fact that the test is not particularly difficult and that some of the older drivers shouldn't be allowed to drive a wheelbarrow but were still given pass certificates is the problem.

Not all older drivers are bad, there are plenty of younger bad drivers, aggressive young men and young women who can barely see over the steering wheel being common and some truck drivers, of all ages, should be in prison for the way they drive.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Driving over 65 should be illegal unless the elderly can prove clearly they can handle driving. After 70 then no exceptions. Whey should a 35 year old lose his life because a 78 year impaired driver due to age wants to drive? At least this old guy is not denying what he did unlike the guy in Tokyo who ran over a family and then blamed the car instead of himself for killing innocent people.

Nonsense - unless you're going to do the same for the most dangerous age group, 18 to 25. Go look up the stats on which age group causes the most accidents, the most injuries and the most deaths. Or don't, and continue believing the lie that elderly people are more dangerous.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

I have looked at the statistics and it is older drivers who cause more deaths in Japan. This has been true for some time now so do catch up with the facts. The sheer numbers of ancient drivers in Japan is one reason for the high deaths caused by these impaired drivers versus the shrinking population of younger drivers. Who by the way tend to not drive anyway.

Also note the distinction that younger drivers cause accidents not because they are physically impaired as all old drivers are, again this is fact, but rather they are reckless. That can.be fixed but confusing the brakes and the accelerator which old people do all the time due to mental incapacity cannot be fixed. They cannot be made young again with normal mental and visual skills.

So until Japan makes driving over 65 an exception rather than the rule more innocent people, and in many instances kids, will get mowed down by ancient impaired drivers.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Get ready for a rant.

If I was learning how to drive in Japan through observation this would be my understanding of the the road code.

All speed signs are to be exceeded by 20kph.

Pedestrian crossings are to be observed only when there is an old man with an fluor vest. If the old man isn't present you don't need to stop.

A maximum of 2 cars are allowed to traverse an intersection after the light has turned red.

On curvy roads one must ignore the centerline. Whenever possible utilize the entire width of the road and take the racing line. On inside blinds, hike out as much as possible. Outside blinds ride the centerline.

In the case of an emergency (for example wanting to stop you car to scream "atsui ne" to your friends) apply your hazard lights and stop at your leisure.

If you are driving behind someone, make sure you're close enough that they can see your eyes their rear view mirror.

Young children in cars are required to stand. On the center console or in the passengers seat is preferred.

It says the guy was on the wrong side of the road because he was trying to overtake someone. It's not an age thing it's just disrespect of the law and ignorance of the gravity of driving.

It seems, just like the anonymity of online forums, being hidden in their cars brings out the absolute worst in people here. Passive aggression is a national pastime and cars offer a great outlet.

I don't know how to address these issues. I would like to see the police out there policing more. We're lead to believe they should have the free time to do so.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

Kiwikid-

I didn't realize we lived in the same town...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Vreth.....

You are spot on with the old guy in the white Kei truck being the most dangerous vehicle on the road. This is multiplied if they are wearing a baseball cap, especially a red cap. They will rarely use their indicators and will pull out without a care in the world.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I have looked at the statistics and it is older drivers who cause more deaths in Japan. This has been true for some time now so do catch up with the facts. The sheer numbers of ancient drivers in Japan is one reason for the high deaths caused by these impaired drivers versus the shrinking population of younger drivers. Who by the way tend to not drive anyway.

In total numbers? That's probably correct. Percentage-wise? I doubt it.

100 accidents caused by older drivers out of total of 10,000 older drivers is 1%

50 accidents caused by younger drivers out of a total of 1000 younger drivers is 5%

More accidents by older people? Sure. Who are the worse drivers? Younger drivers.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Elderly people around 65 to 70 should prepare themselves for a future life without car in case they are unfit to drive any longer.

It really depends on the individual how you prepare yourself for your old age. Location of your home is a major concern.

I am now 69 and when I retired with 65, I was really happy that I do not need to drive heavy vehicles like truck and bus any longer. When we moved out of Tokyo to the outskirts of a smaller city in Kansai we were careful when buying our condominium unit, making sure there are supermarket, home-center, drug-store, medical doctors etc. nearby and that our new home is located near a bus-stop of a major road with regular connection to the city center (6 km) so we will be able to visit the shopping mall, bank, post-office, railway station, city hall, parks etc. even without using our car or depending solely on taxi services.

I will see what happens to me in future, if they take away my driving licence, so let it be.

We will go out by feet, bus, train, sometimes taxi, using delivery services etc.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

If you live in a rural area in Japan, you have no choice but to drive, and if you are a farmer, you have no choice but to live in a rural area. Furthermore, old houses have no resale value in Japan so people cannot move, even if they wanted to.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Back in my old country, every driver over the age of 65 has to undergo a professional medical examination every two years and then take an exam, once a year (I think) for drivers over the age of 70. First of all eye examination, Nyctalopia, shape recognition, etc. Then tests like MMSE. I don't understand why it's not the same here given the age composition of the population.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I do not what the point of any punishment at this point would be. Of course his drivers license must be taken away, but I assume that has been done already.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

My favorite one that causes me palpitations is the sudden pull out from being stationary and then putting on an indicator…

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In total numbers? That's probably correct. Percentage-wise? I doubt it.

100 accidents caused by older drivers out of total of 10,000 older drivers is 1%

50 accidents caused by younger drivers out of a total of 1000 younger drivers is 5%

More accidents by older people? Sure. Who are the worse drivers? Younger drivers.

Good that you can admit to the current facts about old people caused fatalities in Japan. However the percent numbers you proposed are clearly fabricated. Anyway, do you honestly think that the family members of the 35 year old driver above are somehow relieved that his killer was 78 and not 28? The fact is that all 78 year olds are a risk to themselves and others when they are behind the wheel.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Kiwikid: great post. I might add that if you drive a foreign luxury car then no rules of the road at all apply to you.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Lots of hating on the elderly on this thread, don't forget though many younger drivers cause many accidents and exercise their right to stupidity too !

Not all old drivers are bad or dangerous !

5 ( +5 / -0 )

There is a short one way road near where I live and drivers of ALL ages are not paying attention to the NO ENTRY sign...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They need to crack down on drivers who are a risk to the public.

Fixed it for you. No need to thanks me.

Regarding driving, I think public transportation should be encouraged. In countryside, they tend to be scarce making people having not much choice but to use a personal car. Considering how costly is a car : how about having a more or less equivalent tax used to finance a free (or cheap) to use public or shared transportation device. For example that could be : - setting a website on which confident drivers can offer a seat to non drivers - buying a small bus and hiring/forming city/town staff to drive it alongside other duties, as a full time driver could be too much - setting an emergency/individual transportation service with volunteer and city/town staff using their own car This way, we can have a system fitting 3 persons different situation : - A need to go to Osaka for medical appointment - A opt in the car of Yuki which work in Osaka - B go to Nara for shopping - B, alongside other town people, opt on the small bus - C got a call from their daughter in Ikoma, they urgently need to get there to take care of the grandchildren - C contact relevant number which found quickly someone to do the trip Gasoline, insurance cost increase, ... &co are mostly financed by the no car tax. That should cover a wide range of situations for not such a high cost and by sharing these through tax even people with low money could rely on them and increase attractiveness of area, moreover by creating partnership in between different towns, villages, cities, ...
2 ( +2 / -0 )

People over the age of 60 shouldn't be driving, period. I hope the old man gets the maximum sentence for his crime. RIP the young man whose life was ended by an irresponsable, self-entitled individual.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Hello Kitty 321Today 01:35 pm JST

If you live in a rural area in Japan, you have no choice but to drive, and if you are a farmer, you have no choice but to live in a rural area. Furthermore, old houses have no resale value in Japan so people cannot move, even if they wanted to.

Regardless where you are living, in cities or rural areas, in or outside of Japan when you enter your 70s you should think seriously about what will happen if you cannot do this or that anymore in future - including farm-work and driving your own car if you live in a remote area somewhere in Japan without any public traffic.

You cannot expect to keep your driving licence if you don't understand the difference between a red, yellow and a blue/green signal because of old age related dementia or because of your bad eye-sight.

If some elderly people are not allowed to drive any longer but do not want to move away from their remote location they have to arrange some other solution for themselves - like elderly day care, delivery services, home helpers, maybe also some assistance from neighbours who are still allowed to drive.

Many small farmers often do not own the house and farmland, but have a contract from a land owner to use it for 10 years and pay a very cheap rent - in such a case the farmer can move away easily. Now there are many empty houses and unused farmland in rural areas in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Driverless cars anyone?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

More road accidents for the under 30s than the over 70s.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022437517307600

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Someone needs to make an example of the old guy especially if is a healthy 78 year old. If no one receives any real punishment seniors will continue. If seniors who may have a lot more years left which is possible in Japan then they should be taught to fear imprisonment even at their age.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bjorn TomentionToday  03:21 pm JST

Lots of hating on the elderly on this thread, don't forget though many younger drivers cause many accidents and exercise their right to stupidity too !

I am also approaching my 70s and I think, driving licence of elderly people should be restricted to reduce traffic accidents related to their old age.

For example, drivers from 75 years old should be subject to eye/reaction/driving test every two years, allowed to use automatic cars only, no permission to drive a heavy truck/bus, using small size cars only - kei-cars and ordinary cars up to 1200cc, not allowed to drive paying passengers like taxi or hire cars (Class 2 licenses), not allowed to enter the expressway, not allowed to rent any car, no permission to use a heavy motorcycle and no pillion rider allowed and so on. Something like that.

Basically a new driving licence category for old people should be created I think.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

You surely wouldn’t really want to solve the problem. If you don’t let older people drive anymore you won’t sell them cars from the factories you work in or work for and if they don’t have a car anymore they won’t buy much out of the stores you work in or work for. Then you have slightly safer streets and highways but will be poor like in the Sahel zone. You just don’t really want to solve this problem, do you? lol

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Prosecute this person to the fullest extent. These types of drivers should be discouraged from getting behind the wheel.

zichiToday  05:07 pm JST

More road accidents for the under 30s than the over 70s.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022437517307600

As the study says, there are fewer over 70s drivers, they drive less than other groups, and they drive primarily in the day versus night, when there is a higher rate of road accidents.

There are more gun deaths in Japan than Singapore, as a point of reference.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Zaphod: "I do not what the point of any punishment at this point would be. Of course his drivers license must be taken away, but I assume that has been done already."

The law is the point, and a person is dead. What do you suggest, a "Shouganai" and shoulder shrug to the survived of the deceased? True, whatever the man gets, if he goes to jail, would be a death sentence in all likelihood, but he'll still be more alive than his victim. The old man needs to understand there are consequences to his actions, and so does society in general. Understanding when it's too late has got to stop.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

However the percent numbers you proposed are clearly fabricated.

Of course. It's an exaggeration. But the fact remains as I explained.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

smithinjapan

Zaphod: "I do not what the point of any punishment at this point would be. Of course his drivers license must be taken away, but I assume that has been done already."

The law is the point, and a person is dead. What do you suggest, a "Shouganai" and shoulder shrug to the survived of the deceased?

No, I suggest to revoke his license and make sure he does not drive anything more dangerous than a bicycle. What exactly is the point to lock him up in prison for his last remaining years?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Deterrence of others is one rationale for all criminal sentences. Publicize that dangerous old drivers will be locked up the rest of their lives, and some still-rational senior citizens will be deterred AND some family members will also be deterred and take away the keys from Otoosan and Obaasan.

Mrs. Affist's parents recognize their eyesight and reactions are not so good anymore. They don't want to drive at night. They don't want to drive on the expressway. But the driver's license is still something they have pride in, for some reason. Perhaps surrendering it is an admission that the end is near...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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