Japan offers ramen discounts if elderly drivers give up licences as accident rate spikes

Elderly drivers in Japan's Aichi prefecture are being offered ramen discounts to give up their drivers' licences, as the country sees a sharp rise in accidents involving older motorists.

Elderly drivers who surrender their licences will qualify for discounts on ramen noodles at 176 outlets of the popular Sugakiya restaurant chain, in a scheme rolled out last week.

Those who give up their permits will receive a certificate from police which they can present when ordering the noodles to see the price reduced from 590 yen (S$7.46) to 500 yen, an Aichi police spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

According to the national police agency, the number of accidents involving drivers aged 75 years and above has risen from 7.4 per cent to 12.8 per cent in the last decade, reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

On Nov 12, an 83-year-old woman killed two pedesterians by accidentally accelerating. In October, an 87-year-old truck driver killed a boy, 6, who was going to school.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for more action to address accident rates caused by drivers in the over-75 age group.

More than a quarter of Japan's 127 million people are 65 years old or older, with the proportion projected to rise to 40 per cent by 2060, The Guardian reported.

From March next year, revisions to the country's Road Traffic Law will be put into effect, said an SCMP report.

Drivers who are 75 or older must get a certificate of competence to drive if standard cognitive ability check-ups, conducted every three years, show that their memory or judgment is impaired.