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91-year-old man, driving wrong way on expressway, dies after head-on collision

33 Comments

A 91-year-old man died Wednesday after he drove his car the wrong way along an expressway and crashed head-on into another vehicle, in Chiryu, Aichi Prefecture.

According to police, the accident occurred shortly before 6 a.m. Fuji TV reported that the elderly man, Chojiro Matsuo, was driving the wrong way along the expressway when he crashed into a car driven by a woman in her 40s.

Matsuo was taken to hospital where he died about 2 1/2 hours later. The woman in the other car sustained light injuries, police said.

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33 Comments
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... mmmm really.. pass 70 no driving license. That should be the law

-18 ( +1 / -19 )

Shockingly frequent occurrence. The exit ramps obviously need gates, even if they're not for ETC.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

... mmmm really.. pass 70 no driving license. That should be the law

Why stop there? Logan's Run style - no license after the age of 30. And everyone can be "renewed" upon reaching that epochal age...

4 ( +7 / -3 )

... mmmm really.. pass 70 no driving license. That should be the law

No, it shouldn't. But it should be the age the authorities start administering a battery of tests--cognitive, vision, hearing, and definitely a road test (not a driving-school course). You pass them all and maybe you don't come back for 2 years. From 75 make it annual. Obviously, failing the cognitive or road test should require the immediate surrender of your license. No urging or offers of free udon. To sum up, not all 70 year olds are the same.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Seat belts?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

90 odd years of age , Could it have been an intentional drive down the wrong way, did he have a license? Did he have the OAP sticker on the car ? We'll never know. As for the 70's taking or renewing their license , that's already in place

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

If you haven't driven on expressways recently, at the entrances there are arrows pointing the correct direction painted on the pavement AND affixed to the medians or whatever is there. This man apparently was NOT looking. Yes, there are far too many elderly, senile drivers out on the roads.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Enough talk! Get started on the increase in tests for drivers over 70, with mandatory forfeiture of licences if they fail any.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

@Keika

Well the "taking away" the license is not a thing yet.. they take it away if you fail to pass the bi-annual evaluation.. which by my view is too much time in between and not a good evaluation.

As for many here that are against the idea of taking away the license pass 70 years old, what are your motives to say people over that age should be able to drive a car?

My reasons to say they should give up the license and/or taken away pass an certain age (70), are.. the fact that by that age hand-eye coordination is very low, visual and auditive senses are poor, the peripheral visual field is around 20 to 30 degrees.

This not counting other natural deterioration related to age like glaucoma, cataracts, diabetes.

Also the shortening of attention span, memory loss and dementia.

Even if you are a healthy individual, by the age of 70, the loss of reflexes is an important thing.

Finally, we have a lot of cases (accidents) related to old age drivers...

If in a near future the self driving or semi-self driving cars are a major thing and you still need to have a license to own one of these vehicles, then my opinion could change.

But at the moment with medical and incidental situation... taking away the driver's license at certain age is very reasonable

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

@jcjapan and Frederic Bastiat

But there is nothing stopping someone from simply turning around once already on the expressway.  It might take an exceptional set of circumstances but it's not impossible, I'd say.  Especially for a 91-year-old.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Frederic, honestly I don't look at the ground as I'm exiting a freeway but I'll take your word for it. But considering a 91 year old's vision and other obvious impairments if he's making a mistake like this, often at night it seems, arrows don't seem to be doing the trick. Just found these harrowing #s from a Japan Times article last year

One type of accident that seems particularly common among elderly drivers is so-called gyakusou (wrong-way driving), such as mistakenly entering an expressway via an exit ramp and driving into the oncoming traffic. Elderly drivers are said to be responsible for around 70 percent of such mishaps, of which about 200 reportedly occur each year.

No matter the age 200 times/year! I'll be sure to scan the distant horizon far more rigorously going FWD.

Keika, not sure about driving tests. Anyway know about that? You're right about the cognitive tests though--I didn't know this. Still unclear how strict they are about seizing licenses from those who fail.

And Daniel, perhaps you and your parents are younger so you simply haven't been around a lot of folks in the their 70s. Some shouldn't drive full stop, some perhaps only on their country roads, some have dementia and some are sharp as tacks. So on and so forth. My dad is 80 and is fine in his little town. My uncle is a few years older and is an absolute menace and his license should be seized this minute. Guy gets lost all the time and can't remember what you said 30 seconds ago. My mom is in her early 70s and is perfectly fine even on busy highways.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Enough of this, cancel all licenses beyond 70 asap!

Why people should suffer because of those ignorant old people

-19 ( +1 / -20 )

Matsuo was taken to hospital where he died about 2 1/2 hours later. The woman in the other car sustained light injuries, police said.

Well, may not be 'good news' as such but reckon the family of the deceased are happy/relieved granddad didn't kill an innocent, I know I am. Shame none of his kids/grandkids/great grandchildren didn't confiscate his car keys though. Probably thought he was 'fine'. yeah right, dh.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Hey! Before you all call for elderly drivers handing in their licences, I've seen much younger drivers do exactly the same thing many times! Furthermore, elderly drivers make up for less than 10% of fatal accidents in Japan. You should be campaigning for the other 90%+ of drivers to have their licences revoked for being careless and reckless idiots. Today I saw a late 20"s father swerving his 600cc buzz-box along a duel-lane main road coz he was only driving with one hand while holding his 2-3 month old baby in the other and talking to it. My point is, there are many more and far worse idiots on the roads than the elderly. One or two or ten bad apples doesn't mean all elderly are bad drivers, in a country where nearly a third of the population is over 65.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

As for many here that are against the idea of taking away the license pass 70 years old, what are your motives to say people over that age should be able to drive a car?

I have to ask, how many 70-year-olds do you know? Generally, 70 is very early for dementia. My music teacher is 75 and still lugs a tenor sax to gigs in Kobe. My parents came to Japan when my Dad was 73 and my mother 71, and she came back a few years later. Barring severe illness, 70 isn't old at all.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Old people vote remember people!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Why was a 90 year old driving at all his age he should have free transport .

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Why people should suffer because of those ignorant old people

Because we have to suffer from ignorant young people. But we are old enough to understand that there is a difference, and that not all young people are ignorant. I am not 70, but I'd trust the average 70 year old behind a wheel more than the average 21 year old.

Problems arise when hot-headed people demand a blanket action for a perceived threat. There's not all that much difference between someone who demands all 70-year-olds give up their license, and someone who demands that all people from a certain country be banned from entering their own nation. Please let that sink in for a moment.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Statistically the most dangerous drivers are younger men who have recently passed their tests. Especially when in a car full of friends. Not just in Japan.

Speeding, drinking, racing, showing off and generally ignoring rules of the road.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Easy solution around the corner. I have said it once. I guess I will have to keep it typing it while ya'll keep downvoting each other.

Self-driving cars. Legislation needs to be examined and passed in Japan so testing on a system can begin here ASAP. This is an issue that Japan can not afford to be 20-30 years behind like so many other things here. Japan has a problem, one that is growing with the booming elderly percentage and climbing life expectancy. No reason to stop people from getting around. 18 year Yoshi wants to take the car out, boom the cars reads the RFID on his licence and puts its into manual mode. Grandpa-Yoshi wants to go to the store the car reads the RFID on his licence. Boom, self driving mode only. Done and done. He gets to the store and back with out a scratch and could even safely watch some TV on the way.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Robert Dykes: What if Grandpa Yoshi wants to drive himself and takes 18 year old Yoshi's drivers licence?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

As Japan's population has aged in recent years, the number of road fatalities has fallen. We might conclude that older drivers are safer. I suspect that if only those over 60 were allowed to drive, things would be better.

Because we have to suffer from ignorant young people.

Yay to that, commanteer. Let the uppity young so-and-sos walk. It'll do them good.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How many elderly people must suffer the same fate before the government acts?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

His age is only one of the reasons. Much younger drivers are doing same stupid things because road network in Japan is very confusing and visibility in many areas is limited. Human factor is another huge problem that we cannot avoid because we are all humans. Self-driving cars is the solution. Computer already does it better.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

91 is the new 70:

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sorry about all of my knockers but im a young 70 and know my abilities and won't even attempt to drive once 80 as have seen many old and a few younger die this way. How you you or your families would like to cause death by being beyond the capability of proper attention when driving and kill some innocent person in a Accident waiting to happen due to being slow thinking in an emergency or had a stroke while driving.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Tahoochi

your comment is no help. By your logic what is the point of taking away their licnence if their going to drive illegally anyway. Self driving cars at least give them the OPTION of freedom, safely and legally.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

At some places in the city, the entrance and exit are side by side under the expressway. If you are turning right into it across traffic, I can imagine people being stressed and taking the near road when they should take the far one, especially if they rarely drive and are depending on a satnav for directions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It seems that many here are not capable of arguing or give a proper counter opinion.

The age i propose (and I think is accurate) 70, is based on what I know and have seen and experienced.

My parents both are over 70, my wife mother is close to 80, since someone asked...

What I am asking (hoping for some calm exchange of points of view) is what do you think should be a proper age or proper measure. Taking in consideration the risks of old age physical degeneration, and also taking in general scale. Your parents could be F1 drivers at age 105, and winning the Grand Prix.. but that is a flunk, we have to talk about the generalities in this case of old age drivers.

if part of your argument is "if you take the driver's license to those old people how are they going go with their lives?"...

Well, that is a problem that can be solved with other measures (there are already some solutions available). If you main reason to be against the taking away the licence lay only in the above, then you are only "covering the problem and hoping to it to go away"... I think some of you are very critics about that being a "thing" here in Japan (irony maybe?)

As for the young people, first of all physically speaking they are fit to drive, the problem with young people is that they are not mentally prepared for driving which is an entirely different matter of motor-vehicle accidents.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

91 is the new 70.

Haha it sure is! Some would even argue that 91 on viagra is the new 40! But what might work in the bedroom does not necessarily translate elsewhere. Ppl in their 80s may look, feel etc younger than before, the vast majority still have impaired hearing and/or decreased vision and/or slower reflexes and/or attention deficit and the list goes on.

i think 70yo is far too early to ask ALL drivers to hand over their license (has to be assessed on a case by case basis imo) but reckon the 70s has to be the decade when controls, restrictions etc are put in place and by the time ppl reach 80yo most/all have voluntarily returned their license.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think after a certain age you should have compulsory eye test, reaction test, (of some sort) and a medical, not only is this protecting them it is protecting other people, and if the can't fulfil the criteria, may be they should get free or subsidised transport. either way its a sad day when someone ends there life in such a tragic way, and this probably could have been avoided.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why aren't there sensors on highways linked to the etc reader?Easy for a warning to be given if a driver is detected going the wrong way.......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have a close relative who is 98, and I think she stopped driving at 93 because.... everything moves faster than a 93 year old. She did it right, though, and marveled at how easy driving is if you don't make left turns (would be right turns in Japan). Sounds crazy, but you would be the nut if you disagreed with her. Many major delivery firms worldwide use this strategy to increase efficiency and reduce accidents.

She has never had an accident, which is quite a bit better than most people. Her daughter would ride shotgun and let her drive. That is how... reliable.... her skills were, even at 93.

You know. I am not going to say that over 70 is too old. Or even over 80. If we want to choose a cut-off age for people, I hope we don't rely on anecdotes. We certainly have the data to make a reasonable choice about it as a society.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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