Elderly who drive without sticker won’t face fine

Kyodo News

The National Police Agency said Thursday it will retract a penalty for drivers aged 75 or older who fail to display a sticker indicating to other road users that they are elderly, agency officials said.

The agency also decided to study whether to change the design of the “momiji” (autumn leaf) mark, as it has been criticized by some as resembling a dead leaf.

The Road Traffic Law amendment that took effect in June stipulates a ¥4,000 fine for elderly drivers who fail to display the symbol, but in a draft law revision worked out by the agency Thursday, the requirement to display the sticker has been reduced to an “obligation to make an effort” to display it, without penalty.

The NPA said it will scrap the penalty because some 75 percent of elderly drivers already display the sticker.

Due to public criticism of the penalty, police had decided not to penalize violators for the first year the law is in force.

Some 6.16 million people aged 70 or older are licensed to drive, making up 7.7 percent of all license holders, according to the agency’s data as of the end of 2007.

The agency expects the number to rise to 9.92 million, or 12.4 percent of the total, in 10 years.