SEOUL, Aug. 17 (Korea Bizwire) – Korean society is rapidly aging, resulting in a surging number of elderly drivers. By 2020, Korea will be home to 4 million drivers aged 65 and older, which is about 10 percent of its population.
To better prepare for the coming demographic shift and its implications for road safety, the Korean National Police Agency (KNPA) has decided to develop measures to reduce the risk of traffic accidents involving elderly drivers.
According to the agency, one’s physical and cognitive abilities deteriorate along with age, thus increasing the chances of driving accidents putting both themselves and others in danger. The European Commission reported in April that the “fatality rate for drivers over 75 is more than five times higher than the average, and their injury rate is twice as high”.
The KNPA will first carry forward a new policy to shorten the cycle of aptitude tests from the current five years to three, for drivers aged 75 and older, while making it obligatory for elderly drivers to receive certain number of hours of traffic safety education.
The education program will be free of charge, and will include a cognitive function test along with other customized driving courses. The agency also said that drivers who fail to partake in the education program will not be able to have their driver’s license renewed.
The matters were discussed at a public hearing Wednesday led by the KNPA and other related organizations and associations, including the Korean Senior Citizens Association and the Ministry of Public Safety and Security.
The agency further noted that Japan was able to reduce the number of elderly drivers killed in car accidents by 10.6 percent, from 1,560 in 2010 to 1,395 in 2014, after implementing a similar traffic safety education program for drivers aged 70 years and older, and cognitive function test for drivers aged 75 years and older.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)