SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Korea Bizwire) — A record number of drivers aged 65 or older in South Korea voluntarily gave up their licenses in the January-September period, the National Police Agency and the Road Traffic Authority said Thursday.
The number of such elderly drivers came to 43,449 in the reported period, up 530.50 percent from a year earlier, or about 3.6 times the figure in 2018.
By region, Seoul topped the list of senior drivers returning their licenses with 14,158, followed by Busan with 6,893, Southern Gyeonggi with 5,191 and Incheon with, 3,033.
Behind the sharp increase in the number of senior drivers giving up their licenses was the introduction of a support program for senior citizens surrendering their driver’s licenses by local governments.
Forty municipal governments including Seoul, Daegu and Incheon have implemented an incentive program that provides 100,000 won (around US$83) a month in a transportation allowance to senior drivers who voluntarily return their licenses.
The state-run traffic authority also attributed the rise to a revised traffic law under which the frequency of driver’s license renewal and cognitive testing for people aged 75 or older is shortened to every three years from every five years.
In August, a man in his 60s injured five people including kindergarten kids after drove his car into a makeshift pool inside a parking lot at an apartment complex in the southwestern city of Jeonju.
The number of accidents caused by elderly drivers increased to more than 30,000 last year from 24,429 in 2016, 23,063 in 2015, 20,275 in 2014, 17,590 in 2013 and 15,190 in 2012.