One dead and three injured after driver in her 90s mounts curb in Kanagawa

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

A female driver in her 90s ploughed into four pedestrians on a road in a Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Monday morning, killing one woman, police said, in the latest incident to highlight the growing problem of elderly drivers involved in fatal accidents.

According to firefighters, the driver as well as six others — four victims and two others who witnessed the accident and became sick — were taken to hospital. Of the six, one woman died and another was knocked unconscious. Those rushed to the hospital ranged in age from their 30s to 60s.

The police said the incident, which occurred around 10:55 a.m., took place after the car hit four people at a busy intersection, mounted a curb and hit two others on the sidewalk some 300 meters north of JR Chigasaki Station.

Local media said the driver was also slightly injured.

“I heard a loud hitting noise,” said a 31-year-old employee of a nearby Chinese restaurant. “When I went outside, I saw a car looking like it had jumped a sidewalk and then some people were taken away by an ambulance.”

A series of fatal crashes caused by elderly drivers in the country has left authorities grappling for ways to clamp down on the problem.

Drivers over 65 were responsible for 965 deadly accidents nationwide — more than a quarter of the total — in 2016, according to the National Police Agency.

Most accidents caused by elderly drivers resulted from them mixing up the accelerator and the brake or losing control of the steering wheel.