A panel set up by the National Police Agency has proposed the introduction of new penalties for drivers who fail to declare when updating their driver's licenses preexisting conditions, such as epilepsy, that could compromise road safety.
The panel of experts was commissioned to study the issue after epileptic drivers caused fatal road accidents in Kyoto and Tochigi prefectures. The panel found that in the last five years, 69% of drivers whose epilepsy caused a traffic accident, failed to declare their condition when renewing their driver's licenses.
On April 12 this year, a minivan crashed into pedestrians on a crowded street in Kyoto's popular Gion tourist district, killing two men and five women. Eleven others were injured in the incident. The 30-year-old driver, who apparently suffered an epileptic attack while driving, also died.
A similar incident also took place in Tochigi Prefecture, in April 2011 when a man driving a mobile crane suffered an epileptic fit while driving. His vehicle plowed into a group of elementary school pupils, killing six. The man was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment on a charge of negligent driving resulting in death and injury.
The NPA panel has recommended introducing penalties for failing to declare, when applying for or renewing a driver's license, preexisting conditions that could pose a road traffic hazard. The panel also suggested a system whereby doctors could, at their own discretion, report patients whose conditions they believe could hamper their ability to safely operate a vehicle.© Japan Today