SEOUL, Dec. 16 (Korea Bizwire) – The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is considering a revision to the Passenger Transport Service Act that would oblige cab drivers aged 65 and above to have their driving competence periodically tested as a condition for license renewal.
The move, which was announced Thursday during a safety management seminar for aging cab drivers, came in response to the increasing number of older cab drivers across the country.
Official data notes that there are 277,107 drivers in South Korea, 19.5 percent of whom are 65 or older, which is an increase of 8.6 percent compared to 2011. With the rate rising fast – alongside Korea’s quickly aging social structure – by 2020 half of all taxi drivers will be older than 65.
This could be a concern, officials said, as driving proficiency can gradually decline with age. Last year, there were 4,138 accidents involving an aged cab driver, a leap of 72.12 percent from 2011 (1,734 accidents).
In fact, a study comparing older (65+) and younger cab drivers showed that accidents relative to distance travelled came in at 0.988 and 0.65, respectively, while the number of fatalities relative to distance travelled was also higher for the senior group at 1.21 and 0.97 – both indicating that older the age of the driver, the more vulnerable he or she is to accidents that could result in deaths.
The ministry is considering the implementation, sometime in 2017, of a “comprehensive driving aptitude test” to reevaluate older cab drivers – the same test implemented this year for bus drivers, which must be taken every three years from the ages of 65 to 69, and every year for those aged 70 and above. The test assesses a wide range of elements, including vision, attentiveness, spatial judgement, and multi-tasking.
“Unless the government guarantees safer management of older cab drivers, public anxiety towards the taxi industry in general will continue to grow,” said a ministry official.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)