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Perception persists that older drivers are dangerous drivers

51 Comments

On Sept 28, a 65-year-old male driver going the wrong way on a Tokyo-area highway plowed into a car carrying three passengers, killing one and seriously injuring the other two.

Well, there it is – more proof, if any is needed, that elderly drivers are a deadly menace. Everybody knows it; why isn’t something done about it?

But is what “everybody knows” necessarily true? Actually, says Shukan Post (Oct 18), older drivers are victims of a smear campaign. Accidents involving them tend to get played up, but if you look at police statistics, their record by no means warrants the fear they elicit.

They do, the evidence suggests, tend to drive in the wrong direction more than is good for them or others – 70% of the 447 accidents attributable over the past two years to that cause have involved a driver aged 65 or over. Vision and hearing weaken with age, reflexes slow, and so on.

But that’s not the whole story. There are other statistics to consider. For example: in 2012, elderly drivers (“elderly” defined as 65 and up) were involved in 102,997 accidents nationwide – up from 83,058 in 2002. “So you see, it’s going up!” you say. Yes – 1.2-fold in 10 years; but during those same 10 years, the elderly population increased 1.7-fold. Looked at that way, the situation is getting better, not worse.

Then there’s this: Elderly drivers account for 17% of all licensed drivers, and yet are involved in 16% of accidents – versus 21% for drivers in their 20s and 19% for those in their 30s.

If we consider only fatal accidents, the elderly again come off, comparatively speaking, not too badly – 6.31 elderly drivers per 100,000 were involved in fatal accidents in 2012, as against 8.52 per 100,000 aged 16-24.

Still, the perception persists: an old driver is a dangerous driver. The elderly can be their own worst enemy in this regard. “My husband refuses to quit driving,” complains a 65-year-old wife of her 73-year-old husband. “If a driver causing an accident only hurt himself, that would be one thing. But what if he hits a child? What then? If a child darts out suddenly onto the road, would my husband react quickly enough?”

Grown children can be similarly wary concerning their parents. “I was looking forward to taking my family – wife, children, grandchildren – for long drives after I retired,” Shukan Post hears from a 67-year-old man. “I saved up my money and bought a new car just for that. Now all of a sudden my children are saying they won’t let the kids ride with me! They insist I give up my license! Listen – I’m not in my dotage yet! It’s true my reflexes are slower than they once were, but I make up for it by being more careful.”

A Tokyo taxi driver in his 70s has this to say: “I’ve been driving for over 30 years and I know this city like the back of my hand. Unlike younger drivers, I don’t drive with one eye on the GPS navigator. And unlike a lot of drivers in their 50s, I don’t work myself beyond exhaustion just to make money. And yet – some people flagging down a cab see my white hair and wrinkled face and all of a sudden their hand goes down, they turn away. They won’t take me; they’re afraid I’m unsafe.”

Is that a form of profiling? Let the reader decide.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

51 Comments
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Then there’s this: Elderly drivers account for 17% of all licensed drivers, and yet are involved in 16% of accidents – versus 21% for drivers in their 20s and 19% for those in their 30s.

While it may be true that the elderly account for a lower percentage of accidents than those in younger age brackets, this is misleading because they are most likely driving much less: i.e., they are not likely commuting long distances to work on a daily basis or using their cars as much or often as younger folks with more reasons to drive. So this 16% accident rate is actually pretty high. Furthermore, they tend to become involved in accidents that are totally avoidable and that even the most negligent teenager would never make: mistaking the brake petal for the gas, plowing into buildings, and the example in this story, going the wrong way down a highway. Mind you these mistakes are made (most likely) while stone sober and without loud music, incoming texts, loud music or other such distractions (not that those are excusable of course). In general, their mistakes are so unbelievable that their accident rates, low or not, will always be considered too high.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Combinibento - Well said! my thoughts exactly, and if they really need to drive due to life in very rural communities its totally fine but they have to be tested regularly, frequently and at their own expense. There is no reason for old person to drive in a city were reaction is important and you have to stay very aware on the road. Public transport driving after 70 should be absolutely prohibited

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Alex Einz Oct. 16, 2013 - 07:43AM JST Public transport driving after 70 should be absolutely prohibited.

Article states: "If we consider only fatal accidents, the elderly again come off, comparatively speaking, not too badly – 6.31 elderly drivers per 100,000 were involved in fatal accidents in 2012, as against 8.52 per 100,000 aged 16-24."

Maybe we should prohibit 16-24 drivers first.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

MANY, not all, but many drive too slow. SLOW IS DANGEROUS! Just yesterday I saw an erldery man try to reverse into a space, he had it N and floored and gave more gas when it wouldn't go. I dont know about you, but sometimes my cars transmission gets tuck right on the line, and will drop up or out of ntureal if I didn't make sure it was firmly in the "notch" It was an accident waiting to happen.

you know what. I can all these same things about the NEW drivers too. They drive like scared puppies half the time.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

inakaRob, so.....you are trying to say?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I have a friend who is an actuary - his job is to calculate risk statistics, and according to him the most dangerous drivers are those who have just received their licenses. Apparently nearly 90% of all new drivers will have an accident within their first year of driving. It might not be a serious accident, but statistically speaking new drivers are most dangerous.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Whatever the statistics say can be twisted any way you like, but from a personal experience of someone who drives quite a bit everyday here I,m certainly weary of the elderly drivers. Some time ago an obaachan ( 70 to 80 years ) old almost crashed head on to me as she dozed off behind the wheel ( it was mid afternoon ) and went across the dividing line straight at my car. Luckily I was ale to swerve at the last moment as I saw her slumped over the steering wheel heading at me ( at first I thought she had a heart attack or something ). Anyway , often i see seniors driving way too slow on major roads ( with a line of frustrated cars behind them ), driving without headlights on etc......accidents waiting to happen.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I wouldn't make a set age ban as some who are 90 can drive very well and others who are 60 are not quite there. I would have a practical driving test to keep the license valid every 2 or 3 years for those over 70.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

every 2 years? its not enough , atleast every 6 month, when you are old, your health can deteriorate very rapidly....

-12 ( +4 / -16 )

Elderly drivers account for 17% of all licensed drivers, and yet are involved in 16% of accidents – versus 21% for drivers in their 20s and 19% for those in their 30s.

So, elderly drivers account for 17% of all licenced drivers, and are involved in 16% of all accidents.

Drivers in their twenties account for ? of all licenced drivers, and are involved in 21% of all accidents.

Drivers in their thirties account for ? of all licenced drivers, and are involved in 19% of all accidents.

Not surprisingly, missing some vital information. Also, what does involved mean? Often I see elderly drivers driving in a way that will cause accidents for other people: erractic and slow driving. Any accidents caused will likely see the elderly driver cruise on away from the accident, oblivious to what they have done. Mark that down as not involved in the stats.

There's also the fact that elderly drivers usually drive less than other drivers, so they may be more unsafe per mile driven. I certainly know that in my area of the inaka they are to be watched like hawks.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

"But that’s not the whole story. There are other statistics to consider. For example: in 2012, elderly drivers (“elderly” defined as 65 and up) were involved in 102,997 accidents nationwide – up from 83,058 in 2002. “So you see, it’s going up!” you say. Yes – 1.2-fold in 10 years; but during those same 10 years, the elderly population increased 1.7-fold. Looked at that way, the situation is getting better, not worse."

That is just manipulating numbers... 10 years ago there were not as much elderly drivers on the road. Now there are 1.2 fold more accidents because of the amount of elderly drivers. Yes, there are 1.7 fold more elderly, but due to the economy and gas prices, not as much people are driving, especially the elderly whose pensions have been cut, etc.

So... there are more elderly out there, less "younger" people, so no, the situation is not getting better... Just means that the ratio of elderly drivers to accidents is not as bad. In that sense, yes... I you can say it is getting better, but it does not mean elderly do not hit you with their car.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

No question physical and mental capacity fades with age. Driving is both a physical and mental task, both put old folks at risk.

Young people are involved in accidents because they drive recklessly, not because they are not able to drive well. Old people are a risk because they are too old to drive.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Is that a form of profiling? Let the reader decide.

This reader has decided. combinibento, marcelito and star-viking are right on the money

This article so obviously omitted very valid points and stats on purpose

0 ( +3 / -3 )

"And unlike a lot of drivers in their 50s, I don’t work myself beyond exhaustion just to make money." Uh, one of the reasons we work so hard in long is to finance your long retirement. And can I assume by your comment that you are working for free?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Uh, one of the reasons we work so hard in long is to finance your long retirement

Ah, the arrogance and ignorance of the young. I am retired, I paid my contributions for nearly 50 years, I am getting MY money back.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

"Ah, the arrogance and ignorance of the young. I am retired, I paid my contributions for nearly 50 years, I am getting MY money back."

Ah, the arrogance and ignorance and selfishness of the elderly....I, too am paying my way and the way of my parents and part of your way as well. But I would bet you're getting more than you paid and I am OK with that but when an elderly person criticizes my generation for working for money that pisses me off. At least the majority of your generation will get a retirement; the majority of mine won't.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

If we consider only fatal accidents, the elderly again come off, comparatively speaking, not too badly – 6.31 elderly drivers per 100,000 were involved in fatal accidents in 2012, as against 8.52 per 100,000 aged 16-24.

Who in their right mind would lump 16 year olds with 24 year olds?

For that matter, who would lump 65 year olds with 80 year olds?

I will tell you who; someone playing with numbers and your head.

Frankly, its not enough to talk about involvement in fatal accidents and stop there. You have to talk about who CAUSED the accident. And if you know anything about how the Japanese police handle that question, you know that any such stats they give you would be worthless. Half the methods they use to lay blame are nonsense.

Further, I am not nearly as interested in drivers that kill themselves in fatal accidents. I am interested in those that kill others. Some young hot rodder who kills himself and only himself drifting on a lonely mountain road at 3 a.m. does not belong in the statistics concerning this matter.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Maybe we should prohibit 16-24 drivers first.

16-18 year olds can drive scooters only, not cars. You can't get a car license until you are 18 here and many who live in the city won't.

There is a HUGE difference between 65 and 75. Can we see the accident stats for those aged 75 and up? I have a feeling their accident rates will be much, much higher. I am all for them needing renew their license once every year - with a mandatory eye test.

Indeed, younger drivers do have accidents but that is because they are new drivers. Over time, they get better and then regress as they get older - much like most things.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Everyone drives like crap in Japan, young or old, the older ones are just worse.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

I dislike ageism which usually comes from those identifying themseleves a liberals, heh he.

We all grow old and i get kinda mad when i hear people bashing old folks like this. My dad is 82, still drives and don't cause no trouble to other drivers, 'll tell you what.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Harry_Gatto - if you havent checked, we - the young are paying almost an additional elderly tax just for the likes of you, so yes minimizing your health insurance bill should your first priority as an elderly. It is your generation that wasted your retirement money, and we, even though we are forced to pay in, unlikely to see any cash from that..... So yes, over 70, as higher risk, should sit at home and not bother anyone with their presence.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

"Everyone drives like crap in Japan, young or old, the older ones are just worse." So true, BUT the younger ones eyes are glued to their ktai's making them just as dangerous!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I wonder where these figures come from, it looks a lot like cherry-picking, especially the 16-24 group. The minimum driving age in Japan is 18, so it looks like the writer might be mixing American statistics with Japanese statistics. This article does not meet mimimal standards for accuracy, it should not have been printed.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

You can get a moped license at 16 though I doubt that really does anything with the numbers here.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

65 ain't old these days - this guy was just a knucklehead plain and simple!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@Alex Einz Where do I start? Well, first I would advise all readers to look back through your posts to get some idea of your character; I won't try to influence people, they can make up their own minds. You say that you are paying an additional elderly tax for the likes of me; like of me? What is that? You know nothing about me, I doubt that we are even the same nationality but please go on and explain your thinking. As "an elderly" my first priority should be minimising my health insurance bill? I am still trying to work out what you are trying to say; maybe your English is not as good as your think it is. I pay my health insurance bill in Japan as I have paid it in all other countries I was required to; I don't pay any more or less than I am asked to pay. " It is your generation that wasted your retirement money" I don't know what your are trying to say here but your attitude stinks, you have nothing valid to say and are just spouting nonsense; please explain how I and my generation have "wasted" our "retirement money". I mean, WTF do you about me and my "retirement money"? As for your last sentence, you are now trying very hard to find something valid to say but all you are doing is making yourself look an even bigger fool than before; please keep on digging your hole, you haven't reached bottom yet. When you have finally grown up and have contributed as much as my generation then come back for a proper discussion with some real facts. Just to keep on topic; I have been driving since I was 10 years old, legally for more than 50 years. In that time I have never had an accident, for many years drove 50,000 MILES per year and have had driving licences in 8 countries. I don't consider myself to be a better or worse driver than the next man but I do believe that one's driving ability is closely linked to one's character. Again, just to mention your previous posts, a read of those will illustrate my point.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Statistics show what has been officially reported. What has not been reported, and never will be, are the near misses, the lapses in judgement, the frustrations of other drivers having to deal with elderly drivers who pay NO attention to those ahead or behind them.

This article is misleading at best. Elderly drivers should be tested, not just at a license station, but on actual streets and on highways, YEARLY, and if they don't pass, don't license them!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

As you age, your reflexes slow down and your spatial awarness is all over the place... mistaking the gas for the brake? forgetting to drop it out of neutral while the pedal is pressed all the way down? doing 50 on the highway.. I can go on and on.

If you only drive once a week then chances are less that you would be involved in an accident, but if these elderly drivers were driving every single day, similar to a 2-3 hour commute then I think we'd see more incidents.

Its unfair to lump all elderly drivers into this category - I'm sure some are still as capable as when they were young but they need to be assessed if they are still able to drive safely and with good awareness.

And frankly, I'd throw the new drivers into the mix too.. to make sure they still know what they are doing

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Well, they are.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Being elderly doesn't make you a bad driver. Let's face it, though, among elderly drivers are those with impaired vision, hearing, and reaction time. Those are the ones we should be concerned about. The rest are no problem.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The one telling statistic that is never provided by old folks advocates is accidents per 100kms driven. That is where the meaty detail of who is a worse driver comes in to play. Old drivers, many who don't actually drive, or only drive 5kms to the shops once a week, lack of kms travelled distort the numbers favorably.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I believe that perception is correct!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I stopped reading through these comments after Daito’s, as he summed it up in one single sentence. Right on. Scared puppies, as mentioned above, is also a perfect description.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Just something my father n law who is 79 did, well the other day when the typhoon hit, he left the house around noon, well at around 22:00 he still had not returned and we were getting worried( he cancelled his cell phone recently) so we call the police to see if they can put out a apb, however he returned by taxi, but what had happened was he hit a guard rail, tire blew out, no spare so he walks to a combi, calls a cab returns home, BUT forgot where he left the car! So we check the taxi receipt call them to ask where they picked my father n law up, call the insurance company to have the car towed to a repair garage, My Father n law is fine, but just a story of the elder driving, I mean lucky it was a guard rail and not a person or another car..

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Harry_Gatto the responce was to you " i have been paying for 50 years and want my money back"

if you havent been living here, you got no claim for your money back ( the article is about Japan) 2.It doesnt matter what you did do or how well you drive, as being pointed the statistics above are wrong simply because older people drive much less 3.Yes, I and old young people are paying extra tax for the elderly, this was not there before and was introduced due to country not having enough cash to support the future old generation - not YOU, but me when I get old here in this country.

So, my points all quite valid, and cheap attacks on my english are plain daft

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

" i have been paying for 50 years and want my money back" 1. if you havent been living here, you got no claim for your money back ( the article is about Japan)

First you misquote me and then you write something which makes no sense at all and then you claim all your points are valid. I give up.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Good point, Conbini. They need to normalize it according to average distance or time driver for each age group.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Alex Einz, sometimes ignorance is bliss. Don't sweat it my friend!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

can I recommend to the taxi driver, get some hair dye to darken the white hair, and could he let us know what changes it made to the amount of passangers he has

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The roads belong not only to the ones who think they are capable of pushing the limits regarding speed, reaction time and response. Drive defensively and realize everyone, whatever their age, is not as smart or skilled as you. Slow down, yield for a change. It might actually make you, and your passengers, feel better.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I can see great hilarity happening in about 40 or 50 years from now when a lot of the younger people here get to be elderly themselves. Do you think they will be happy about giving up their drivers license because a bunch of 20 somethings think they are old and dangerous, or will it be a case of 'Do as I say, not as I do'? or, 'What I said, doesn't apply to me, just you.' Some really bad errors I have seen on the road. Pulling across into opposing traffic lane in order to avoid a tailgate impact only to have a head on, and aiming to avoid an approaching car by steering to where it is not at the moment right now, but will be by the time you get there, instead of, where it is now, and won't be by the time you get there. Never brag about how good a driver you are, you'll have a prang the next day.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

older drivers are more dangerous, fact.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

"I can see great hilarity happening in about 40 or 50 years from now when a lot of the younger people here get to be elderly themselves. Do you think they will be happy about giving up their drivers license because a bunch of 20 somethings think they are old and dangerous, or will it be a case of 'Do as I say, not as I do'? or, 'What I said, doesn't apply to me, just you.' "

I can only speak for myself but, yes, I made the decision to have my driving skills tested once a year since turning 50 and plan on giving up driving for good after turning 65. Reason being it's just too risky. I may be in the minority but I know that as I grow older I am more of risk than I was when I was younger (when was the last time you heard a younger person mistaking the accelerator for the brake!?) and my actions do impede others. We pass laws forbidding using phones while driving, etc. that are directly targeting the young. It is time to do the same with anyone over retirement age with mandatory medical check-ups that focus on eyesight, eye-hand coordination and reflexes. It's not discrimination; it's common sense.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

samwatters, just curious. How old are you? I ask because I don't know anyone over 50 who tests their driving skills once a year. 50 isn't all that old, though it may seem that way when you are in your 20s. And how exactly would you test your driving skills? Is there a place that offers such tests?

Frankly, I'm not too worried about drivers in their 50s, or even 60s. And it's easy to say "when I'm in that position, I'm going to do such-and-such." Until you actually are in that position - then things look very different.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Commanteer. I am 55 and I visit a driving school in my native Michigan once a year when I return during my vacation. It costs about US$50 and takes about 2 hours depending on how busy the school is. I don't know if Japan offers such a service. I agree with you that 50 is quite early but my family has certain health issues that give me reason to be cautious.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I can only speak for myself but, yes, I made the decision to have my driving skills tested once a year since turning 50 and plan on giving up driving for good after turning 65

@ Samwatters: Since you have genetic health concerns, it's highly responsible of you to self-monitor in this way. However, as long as your health remains good and your driver-testing results are in the normal range, I would strongly urge you to stop thinking about quitting at some arbitrary age. Do not give up driving (or anything else you love) at 65 unless you are situated in a community where everything (doctors, specialists, your clubs, activities and temple/church) is accessible on foot.

I have watched my mother slowly give up everything that she once enjoyed starting around the age of 65. "I'm getting too old to bother with that now, she'd say." Now at 85 she has spent 20 years with less and less to enjoy and now has nothing to do. My father on the other hand, used all of his considerable gifts and talents to help others and remained a vibrant man. At 80 he looked elderly, but he was not old. Sadly, cancer cut him down at 82. I'm so glad he didn't shut down and waste his last 20 years the way my mother has.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@philly1. Thanks for insight; you made some really good points and I appreciate them! Sam.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Rampant ageism rears its ugly head once again. Ageism is the most ironic forms of discrimination, as all you ageists will be victims in turn.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

form...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@philly1. Thanks for insight; you made some really good points and I appreciate them! Sam.

You're welcome, Sam. (Now go out there and rock it!)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I can't drive 55!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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