Tougher Dementia Checks for Elderly Drivers Come into Force (News)


Tokyo, March 12 (Jiji Press)—Japan's revised Road Traffic Act came into force on Sunday, introducing tougher tests for drivers aged 75 or older to detect signs of dementia in an effort to forestall traffic accidents by drivers with cognitive disorder.

Under the law, elderly drivers will be required to undergo 30-minute cognitive tests to measure memory and judgment if they commit any of 18 traffic violations, such as running a red light or driving on the wrong side of the road, in addition to when they renew their licenses every three years. Drivers found in the cognitive tests to be possibly having dementia will need to receive doctors' diagnosis.

By the increased checks, police hope to identify symptom progression quickly and prevent accidents, officials said.

Dementia sufferers are not allowed to drive. The National Police Agency expects that about 50,000 drivers annually will need to undergo medical examinations after the cognitive tests. About 30 % of them are expected be diagnosed with dementia and have their licenses revoked or suspended, according to the agency.

With prefectural police departments calling on drivers to relinquish their licenses if they feel uneasy about driving, authorities face the challenge of helping elderly people who lost daily means of transportation.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press elderly dementia