A recent series of fatal accidents involving cars driven by elderly people has led the government to organize an urgent meeting of officials in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his Cabinet ministers to tackle the problem. Both the national and local governments should take concrete steps to prevent such accidents, including by properly assessing the driving ability of senior citizens while working out measures to secure alternate means of transport for elderly residents — particularly in rural areas where public transportation services have become meager.
What is tragic and dreadful about these accidents is that people's everyday tools suddenly turn into lethal instruments. In October, an 83-year-old man slammed his light truck into a group of schoolchildren on a walkway in Yokohama after he lost control of the vehicle, killing a first-grader and injuring four other pupils.
Although evidence indicates the man had been driving in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture since the day before, he told the police he didn't remember where he had been and had almost no recall of what he was doing before the fatal crash.