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9-year-old girl dies after pileup caused by senior driver

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I'm sorry to say, I cannot agree with many of you. If you live outside of a large metropolitan area, taking away their license is almost a death sentence. There is no public transportation, even taxis are not convenient and are expensive. Until some type of plan is thought through to deal with these elderly drivers, you cannot just take away their rights without having some safety net for them.

19 ( +22 / -3 )

70 is not really that old. Let’s not forget, the government wants people to work until they are 70. It’s most likely this woman has been a bad driver all her life. They really should stop singling our older drivers for persecution. They are only responsible for less than 10% of road fatalities. Tricks are responsible for nearly 50% of fatalities, but they are not singled out and persecuted.

17 ( +22 / -5 )

I’d say the average 70yr old driver is safer than the average 20yr old male driver.

Now 70 is old?

Plenty of incredibly safe, competent 70 yr olds. I’’m much younger than that, but in over 30 years of driving in two countries I’ve seen more crazy driving by young people than I have of 70yr olds.

I don’t have the stats on me - but I think if you look into the insurance industry. there’s a reason why young drivers have to pay higher premiums.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

Yearly medicals for over 60s is the fairest way. Not all elderly are dangerous. And it would be unfair on those to implement a blanket ban.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

I'm sorry to say, I cannot agree with many of you. If you live outside of a large metropolitan area, taking away their license is almost a death sentence.

Not only outside the metropolitan area. Imagine if they take away drivers licenses for people over 65? I think 99% of the taxi drivers will be out of a job.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

65, take licenses away, those people are demented, health impaired and are the cause of most accidents on roads today in Japan

> Demented? All 65 year olds? Someone sure woke up on the discrimination bed this morning.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

What a sad story.

From a Japanese report I read, my guess is that the lady was trying to overtake the kei truck. The report said she hit someone coming the other way, and that this sent her back into the proper lane and into the kei truck from behind, with enough force to push it onto the pavement and into the kids. The report said there is a no overtaking line on that stretch of the road.

Why a 70 y.o. lady is in a hurry is anyone's guess, but her older husband was with her in the car.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Samit BasuToday 09:47 am JST

I can see both of vehicles involved in this accident are kei cars.

Japan needs to abolish kei car, or at least apply same crash safety standards as regular passenger vehicles, like Koreans do.

Ever wonder why Korean kei cars cruise American and European highways while Japanese kei cars are nowhere to be found?

Americans don't generally favour small cars, but Suzuki and Daihatsu kei cars are common in Europe, of course the Kei category doesn't exist in Europe though.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It depends but 70 is not that old anymore and there are many drivers who can drive safely on that age.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Having blanket bans and restrictions isn't helpful. My father in law is 68 and he is still a ski instructor coaching high school teams 5x a week in the winter, fitter than most people I know and sharp as anybody 30 years his junior. It would be ridiculous to take away his license. On the other hand, my mother in law is 63 and is already showing a few early signs of Alzheimer's so we convinced her to give up her license a few years ago, thankfully. There needs to be better cognitive screening and yearly/bi-annual/whatever is necessary tests for these things as well as a better support system for people who have their licenses taken away. There's no easy fix for this and with an aging society and an heavily shrinking youth population it's only going to get worse. I don't have an answer, but doing nothing isn't helpful either.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Samit BasuToday  09:47 am JST

I can see both of vehicles involved in this accident are kei cars.

Japan needs to abolish kei car, or at least apply same crash safety standards as regular passenger vehicles, like Koreans do.

Ever wonder why Korean kei cars cruise American and European highways while Japanese kei cars are nowhere to be found?

Samit - You are talking foolishly!!! The children killed and injured had nothing to do with the vehicles being kei cars - they were just in the wrong place when the collision happened! There might have been more carnage if the cars had been larger! Kei cars are essential to get around a lot of Japanese back roads - they make absolute sense in this country.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I don't think it will be much longer until AI self driving cars are common place or legally demanded.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@papi

" 99% of the taxi drivers will be out of a job." you read my mind

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The car was driven by a woman and the accident happened at 4pm, which is why schoolkids were hit. It wasn't in the dark.

There is a diagram here. The woman hit the kei truck so hard that the move into the opposite lane must have been an attempt at overtaking. Most people who simply drift into the opposite lane do not then ram the car in front with considerable force.

https://mainichi.jp/articles/20180131/ddm/041/040/121000c

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sa sad for the children's families.

Who knows? The elderly couple could have been arguing. The driver could have... the possibilities are endless. Sounds like unnecessary risk taking on the face of it.

What seems certain is, as people have mentioned above, that automatic braking (and advanced driving assisted vehicles) will assist in many cases of loss of concentration on the road ahead. In fact as I have said before here, if degrees of assistance were mandated according to age, then perhaps a reduction in accidents might follow. Certainly, for better or for worse, manufacturers are adding more and more of such features.

For example you could maybe reduce the accident rate of both younger (18-28) and older (60~)drivers by law, only allowing them to drive cars with guaranteed automatic braking fitted.

Actually there could be a case made for retro-fitting some kind of crash-avoidance system to all legal road cars.

But seeing the number of train crashes around the globe, I have my doubts as to whether even automated systems will be totally crash-free any time soon.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Discrimination based on age, gender, or ethnicity is wrong but testing for competency is a responsible duty of the government.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

For you folks who like to point out that more accidents happen to younger drivers, that is true. That is because there are more younger drivers, and younger drivers simply drive more often.

Per mile driven, seniors have more accidents. And, accidents involving senior drivers have a higher percentage of fatalities than accidents involving drivers under 65.

That is from data for the US. But, it's most likely not much different in Japan.

Universally:

Vision, hearing, and reflexes decline more rapidly after the age of 70.

a high percentage of people over 70 suffer from some form of arthritis and joint pain, making it hard to steer and twist their heads and bodies to check visibility.

a high percentage of people over 70 take one or more medications, which may effect their cognitive abilities.

Driving is a privilege, not a right. So, it's certainly not unfair to have specific testing of age-related abilities when renewing driver's licenses, and perhaps require a senior driving course and written test, as well. Perhaps they could require insurance companies to give discounts for seniors who take and pass such a course, like they do in California? Money seems to motivate people everywhere.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Tragic.

Only thing I'll add is before anyone blames Japan as a whole for the actions of the older driver (without even knowing if he was negligent or not), lots of countries have issues with elderly drivers and finding ways to punish them. I remember in the UK there was even a case recently where an old man killed two people by dangerous driving and was just given a suspended sentence.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Yes, so "in the UK, an elderly man killed two people by dangerous driving and was just given a suspended sentence," but the UK does not have issues with elderly drivers.

Japan has the largest proportion of over-65s in the world and faces a growing problem with elderly drivers, who caused 100,000 traffic accidents last year, about twice the figure 10 years earlier, broadcaster NHK said.

This is from an article written in March, 2008, about ten years ago.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

my thoughts of course go out to loved ones of the kids, but I am especially concerned about the trauma the driver of the car that was shunted into the poor kids. Imagine every time you go to sleep, the images, the dreams, the guilt and nightmares? They did nothing wrong, and suddenly their whole life changed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@smithinjapan - The kids were hit by a car that was rear ended... they weren't in a car themselves.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

All you illinformed calling for cognitive testing if elderly drivers please lay attention! All drivers over 70 must take cognitive testing 3 or 4 times a year, depending on their age. They are also required to take medical Che is for blood pressure and other diseases to keep their license.

It is very unfair and naive to call for all drivers over 60 to hand in their licenses. Drivers over 60 are much more confident and experienced than younger drivers. Elderly drivers only account for a very small percentage of road fatalities and, as the society ages there may be a slight increase. However, drivers between 20-30 cause 40% of road fatalities. It should they who are made to hand in their license.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

65, take licenses away, those people are demented, health impaired and are the cause of most accidents on roads today in Japan.

They certainly are not responsible for most accidents. Young people are.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Old people will never drive well as they do not have the skills any longer. It is just a fact. Old people cannot

even walk without toppling over. After 60, mandatory end of driving. 

Seriously? You really think that people above 60 can't walk without toppling over. I have read some unusual comments on this site, but this one takes the cake.

In my home country they encourage older people to work longer and defer retirement as long as they can , which is better for their health. You really think these people are all toppling over like bowling pins?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Trucks are responsible for 50% of fatalities. Aaaargh!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Suzuki and Daihatsu may sell small cars in Europe but they are not kei cars. Kei cars are built to a whole load of rules that go beyond simply having a 660cc engine. These rules enforce let's just say non-optimal design choices. Suzuki's top seller overseas will be the Swift, which is a compact car like a Honda Jazz/Fit. The build quality is completely different to a Japanese kei car.

Anyway, this isn't about kei cars, it's about someone speeding (there is a witness) and attempting an illegal overtaking maneuver. Had the woman been in a larger and heavier vehicle, at the same speed she would have hit the kei truck harder and quite possibly killed more kids.

Given the way many old women drive, I half suspect that her husband was backseat driving. If I were the police, it would be the third or fourth question I asked, after "why were you in a hurry".

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Mandatory reflex and motor skills/situational awareness tests after 65. I'll be there very soon myself and I'm all for it. Really hoping we have self-driving cars within a few years.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A teenager receives a Japanese driver's license at the age of 18. To obtain the license, he was a very safe driver and carefully followed all regulations.

Once he has the license, he hits the road thinking that he is the world's greatest driver cutting in and out of traffic at high speeds.

At times, these dangerous maneuvers by these young men, cause a chain reaction of rapid breaking with vehicles rear-ending other vehicles.

He becomes the terror of the highways causing accidents, often running red lights causing the loss of lives.

With today's modern technology, cameras should be placed at all traffic lights. Any car exceeding the speed limit or running a red light, a picture should be automatically taken of the automobile showing the license plate.

The picture should then be automatically transmitted to a central hub and analyzed, if the driver is found to be at fault, a citation is issued to the owner of the vehicle.

This will help to eliminate some of the reckless drivers, although not all on the open highway. Older drivers should be much aware of the recklessness of these daredevil crazy kids.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

there are more younger drivers

According to the National Police Agency Traffic Bureau, in 2016 drivers under the age of 30 made up 13.8% of the driving population. Drivers over the age of 65 made up 21.5%.

Younger drivers have more accidents (the accidents do not 'happen to them', as if they have no agency) because they are more inexperienced and more reckless.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

MarkX

Your logic is questionable. You talk about a death sentence for these people and yet many of these people are causing the death of innocents because of their bad driving.

So what's it to be? Their inconvenience, or more deaths due to their mental incapacity?

As I said...yearly examinations. And if you don't pass and live in a rural area, either move or do without a license. Harsh, but fair I'd say.

I 100% agree with MarkX. The moment you start taking away licenses based on their age is the moment you take away their independence and start to place massive strain on an aged care system that is already struggling. Japan does not have the means to cope with that and will not for some time... BUT... I 100% agree with you that testing needs to be annual after a certain age in order to determine if a driver can safely navigate without posing a risk to others.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I saw the replay this morning on the news. She bounced off a few cars before she rear-ended that one. It was like a freaking pinball machine. The first thing that made me think of was that she hit the gas instead of the break.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just plain, old, bad driving, I'm afraid. No need to look beyond that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan needs to abolish kei car, or at least apply same crash safety standards as regular passenger vehicles, like Koreans do.

They could definitely use improved safety standards, especially for crash protection. But, they are already being equipped with the new safety sensor technology, which is a great thing. Perhaps it should be required for older drivers?

Ever wonder why Korean kei cars cruise American and European highways while Japanese kei cars are nowhere to be found?

I see kei cars on JP expressways all the time. I do not see Korean or any country's "kei" cars on US highways because they are not legal in the US. The closest might be the sub-compact Mercedes Smart ForTwo or Fiat 500, neither of which are from Korea.

Sub-compacts in general are quite popular in the US, though. And, the Japanese models are easily the most common, led by the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris (Vitz), and Nissan Versa(Note). BMW's Mini brand is quite popular, too. Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio don't come close in popularity.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Their should be testing on the ability to drive at old age

0 ( +1 / -1 )

On the news this evening it was reported that her husband had just warned her to watch her speed.

As to why she wandered over into the opposite lane, she is saying she cannot remember.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Very said situation. Cleo, thanks for the statistics

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As I understood the elderly female drove into the opposite direction road and stayed there for a while enough...

Please just start taking their licenses away. Each time I imagine the horror relatives have to deal with because of insecure elderly... I can't even... Your privilege to ride old for the lives of those young? Its not even your own fault, your mind starts deteriorating alongside the body. We cant even prosecute you properly! Just what even phantom guarantee are parents supposed to get this wont happen to their children next time...

-1 ( +12 / -13 )

I would give my opinion about elderly drivers and what should be done about their DL, but I'm afraid it'll be removed again because its "off topic".

But I believe something should be done and rather quickish!

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

lots of countries have issues with elderly drivers and finding ways to punish them. I remember in the UK there was even a case recently where an old man killed two people by dangerous driving and was just given a suspended sentence.

This is like the student who flunks the test and says, "I am not the only one who flunked." It's okay to have a problem in our society.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

News reported there was no guard rail and only the standard curb on sidewalk and the road. It would have saved Yui’s life.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

*tolerable

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Magnus Roe

Suzuki and Daihatsu kei cars are common in Europe

There are no Japanese kei cars in Europe. Compact Suzuki and Daihatsu cars, yes. Kei Suzuki and Daihatsu cars, no. 

Only Korean kei cars are sold in Europe, namely Kia Picanto.

Likewise, only Korean kei cars are sold in the US, in the form of Chevrolet Spark. Although Kia Picanto too could be made US legal, Kia doesn't want to sell it in the US.

How is this possible? Korean government applies same auto crash standard on kei cars as it does on all other cars, so Korean kei cars are able to pass US and EU crash tests.

@garypen

Perhaps it should be required for older drivers?

Japan needs to learn from Korea and apply same auto safety standard on all cars regardless of them being kei or regular. Korean have demonstrated that it is possible to have kei cars that can pass US and EU crash standards.

I do not see Korean or any country's "kei" cars on US highways because they are not legal in the US.

Chevrolet Spark is a Korean kei car.

Mercedes Smart ForTwo or Fiat 500, neither of which are from Korea.

Neither of them are qualified as kei cars in Korea, too large. Fiat 500 is understandable, but why not SmartForTwo? Too wide.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

As long as Japan continues to issue licenses to the elderly and they the elderly want to keep driving, they have to be willing to accept the consequences same as anyone else when things like this occur. Negligence resulting in death, multiple injuries, driving on the wrong side of the road, and other charges need to apply, and the 70-year-old driver face prison time.

I don't think we can simply ban the elderly from driving, but there needs to be more serious testing, and test results need to result in licenses being taken away or not renewed, instead of the toothless "suggestion" that people who fail the tests give up licenses.

I'm also curious if the kids in the car were wearing belts. There should be charges there, too, if they were not... and I suspect they weren't.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Additional testing of vision, hearing, and reflexes after the age of 65 or 70 for license renewals certainly seems like a good idea.

I think they should consider requiring vehicles with the new safety technology that has been available the last few years - auto-braking, lane drift prevention, blind spot detection, etc. - for older drivers.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

BungleToday  12:31 pm JST

Just plain, old, bad driving, I'm afraid. No need to look beyond that.

We should look into the cause of every traffic fatality - especially ones that take young precious lives - and even more deeply into possible solutions.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Many need to be. TBO

Shocking standards of driving throughout.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Drivers Mrs. Shigemori's age just need to give up driving--voluntarily, not imprisonment. Not all elderly drivers are dangerous, they need help!

Still, my condolences to Yui Fujiwara's family and my prayers for her surviving schoolmates and their families.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Old people run over others as they cannot drive any longer, they hit gas petal rather than the brake

for example. Young people cause accident not because they cannot drive but because they drive poorly.

Old people will never drive well as they do not have the skills any longer. It is just a fact. Old people cannot

even walk without toppling over. After 60, mandatory end of driving. If the government funded cabs for the informed many, many lives would be saved in this country. And what is more important, an 8 year being alive still or some old woman getting to the hospital to chat with her friends about nothing and on the way running over kids.

More people are going to be run over by the informed aged folks here. Just hope it is not you or your kids run over. Very sad to consider.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

MarkX

Your logic is questionable. You talk about a death sentence for these people and yet many of these people are causing the death of innocents because of their bad driving.

So what's it to be? Their inconvenience, or more deaths due to their mental incapacity?

As I said...yearly examinations. And if you don't pass and live in a rural area, either move or do without a license. Harsh, but fair I'd say.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

I can see both of vehicles involved in this accident are kei cars.

Japan needs to abolish kei car, or at least apply same crash safety standards as regular passenger vehicles, like Koreans do.

Ever wonder why Korean kei cars cruise American and European highways while Japanese kei cars are nowhere to be found?

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Is there a way to limit them driving at night? or when it's more difficult to see your surroundings.

I mean he is driving on the opposite of the road, he must be really confused or the dementia kicked in.

I would not say "all" elderly are dangerous, some are just slow but torarable.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

65, take licenses away, those people are demented, health impaired and are the cause of most accidents on roads today in Japan.Enough! Just yesterday I nearly escaped from huge Merc driving erratically, when I caught up to him.. no surprise the guy belonged to nursing home and not a speeding car

-20 ( +4 / -24 )

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