by Ewa Nowogorski
For a while now, Japan has been facing an old driver problem. All younger drivers, and seven some older drivers themselves have the common knowledge to be weary of old drivers on the roads. On October 9th, 2021, a truck driver lost control and rammed into a police box just outside Tsutsujigaoka Station in Chofu City, Tokyo. Inside the truck, there was one driver and one passenger. The driver was in his late 50s, and the passenger was in his late teens. Paramedics worked hard to resuscitate the driver, but he was pronounced dead 2 hours after the accident. The passenger survived, but is in critical condition. The cause of the accident is currently being investigated. Was it drunk driving? Was the driver distracted? Did the truck break down? Did the driver have a heart attack? Whose fault was this? For now, the questions are unanswered.
This accident is not unique. Just the previous month on September 11, 2021, a taxi driver lost control of his taxi and crashed into a tree, hitting and killing 5 pedestrians. In total 6 people died. The driver himself also later died from blood loss. The backseat passenger survived. This happened in Chiyoda City. Car crashes are not uncommon, and they frequently happen when drivers are not fully paying attention to the roads. But there are other reasons why accidents happen too. In Japan where the population is getting older and older, many old people are forced to continue working to support themselves in old age. They, who cannot find work in companies, often take on blue collar jobs such as taxi and truck drivers. Older people are more likely to suffer from physical constraints, such as not being abl to turn their heads as easily to check their surroundings, and their sense of judgement slows down due to degenerative brain diseases such as dementia that come with age. And sitting in one place for long periods of time puts them at greater risk of blood clots and, as a result, possible heart attacks and strokes. Does this put the streets and everyone in danger?