MAEBASHI, GUNMA PREF. – An 85-year-old man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly hitting two high school students with his car in Gunma Prefecture after ignoring his family’s request not to get behind the wheel, police said.
Kiyokatsu Kawabata has admitted to hitting the girls, according to the police.
The two were hit in the city of Maebashi at around 8:25 a.m. Tuesday, leaving them unconscious, the police said.
According to the police, members of Kawabata’s family had asked him not to drive as he recently caused a minor accident.
The two girls — Miku Oshima, 18, and Sakura Ota, 16 — were hit as they rode their bicycles to school for an opening ceremony.
Ota was run down first and Oshima was hit before the man’s vehicle overturned after crashing into a wall, police said.
“The accident occurred before I could realize” what was happening, Kawabata was quoted as saying by police.
There was no sign that Kawabata had applied the brakes, police said.
In recent years, the rate of traffic accidents caused by people aged 75 or older in Japan has been on the increase, with elderly drivers responsible for around 10 percent of the total accidents that ended in a fatality in 2016.
Japan has begun implementing a stricter cognitive function test for elderly people who wish to renew their driver’s licenses. The government has also been campaigning for elderly drivers to voluntarily give up their licenses.
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