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Japan Offers Cheap Meals and Spa Deals in Exchange for Elderly Drivers’ Licenses

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Japan has been having a particular traffic problem lately, as although traffic accidents have fallen overall, there is one area where they have risen: crashes involving drivers over the age of 75, which went from 7.4% to 12.8% of all crashes over the past decade, according to Japanese police.

This is in part because Japan simply has a large aging population, with an estimated 17 million people aged 65 and older still holding licenses, with 4.8 million of those being over 75 (about double 2005’s number). Many of these crashes involve pressing the gas instead of the brake or driving the wrong way down roads after merging at interchanges or toll booths.

So now, in the Aichi prefecture in central Japan, the Sugakiya restaurant chain offers discounts on ramen noodles at 176 of the chain’s locations if the elderly driver presents their driving record certificate, which they receive from police after turning in their license. This makes their meal of ramen, rice, and a salad cost only 500 yen, or about $4.45, representing a 15% discount.

Other establishments such as sento public baths, barbers, chemists, and taxis in the area had already begun using a similar system, leading to a total of 12,000 drivers taking advantage of the offer.

Less friendly measures are also to go into effect soon, include a measure in March that would have drivers aged over 74 stopped for traffic violations who show signs of memory loss or impaired judgment be referred to a doctor—if they are found to be displaying dementia symptoms, the licenses are suspended or revoked entirely.

News Source: The Guardian