The number of accidents caused by drivers over the age of 65 increased from 17,590 in 2013 to 26,713 in 2017; the number of victims from 737 to 848. The government introduces measures to encourage older people to stop driving. In several provinces, money and incentives for those who hand in their license.
Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A fatal accident, caused by a 96-year-old motorist in Seoul, has sparked lively debate on older drivers who populate the streets of South Korea. In the country, where the average age of the population is 42, the number of elderly drivers is growing in tandem with the aging of the population. With it, the dangers in traffic also increase.
On the evening of last 12 February, the sports car driven by the elderly - identified only by the surname Yoo - ran over and killed a 30-year-old pedestrian in front of a hotel in Cheongdam-dong, in the south of the capital.
The victim died immediately after hospitalization. The police report that, just before the deadly impact, the vehicle collided with another car, while leaving the underground parking lot of the structure.
Traffic experts say that older people are more likely to cause traffic accidents, due to weaker cognitive abilities and slower reflexes. According to the Road Traffic Authority statistics, the number of accidents caused by drivers over the age of 65 increased from 17,590 in 2013 to 20,275 in 2014, 23,063 in 2015, 24,429 in 2016 and 26,713 in 2017; in percentage, from 9% in 2014 to 11% in 2016 and 12.3% in 2017. The number of victims of accidents caused by the elderly has increased from 737 in 2013 to 848 in 2017.
Between 2013 and 2017, crashes involving drivers between the ages of 75 and 79 recorded an increase of 14.3%; those involving motorists aged 80 and over rose by 18.5%.
Recently, the South Korean government has introduced several measures to encourage older people to stop driving. Starting this year, drivers over the age of 75 are obliged to renew their driving license and take an aptitude test every three years instead of every five years. At the time of renewal, they are also required to complete two hours of traffic safety training.
Several provincial governments even offer money and other incentives to those who give up driving voluntarily. The police report that in 2018 a total of 15,528 people, mostly elderly, returned their licence.