September 10, 2019 08:37
Some 4,500 elderly motorists have had their driver's license taken away due to dementia over the last two years.
The National Health Insurance Service has reported patients with dementia to police since 2017. That year, 3,839 licenses were canceled in one fell swoop, but the following year only another 674.
The number of dementia patients was estimated at 75,000 last year and is expected to increase to 1.37 million in 2030.
As society ages rapidly, the number of elderly drivers who pose a high accident risk is increasing. According to data from the Seoul city government, the proportion of accidents involving drivers over 65 in Seoul jumped from 3.2 percent in 2009 to 14 percent last year.
Last Wednesday, the government launched a committee tasked with improving the safety of elderly drivers by listening to other senior citizens and working with police and doctors.
The committee has proposed canceling licenses if a request is made by an elderly driver's family or police as well, and conditional licensing to restrict their driving time and areas if they have no access to public transportation.
Under current law, people over 75 must take a cognitive ability test every three years.
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