The Yomiuri Shimbun About 3,100 doctors nationwide have expressed their willingness to cooperate in screening for dementia when driver’s license renewal time rolls around for older citizens, according to the National Police Agency, after a revision of the Road Traffic Law was enacted March 12 to reinforce testing on elderly drivers who might have developed dementia.
Under the new system, about 50,000 elderly drivers a year are expected to receive medical checks, and that means a shortage of doctors to conduct examinations is anticipated.
An NPA official said the new system “is expected to be implemented smoothly,” because they have been able to get a large number of doctors on board.
The revised law stipulates examinations on cognitive functions should be implemented on two occasions: when drivers 75 or older have to receive medical checks to renew their licenses every three years, and when they violate any of 18 traffic rules, such as ignoring traffic signals.
If certain drivers are determined to have a risk of developing dementia, they are obliged to be checked by a doctor.
If they do not have a regular doctor, prefectural public safety commissions will refer them to medical institutions.
Under the new system, the number of drivers who will need to receive the medical checks is expected to rapidly increase from about 4,000 in 2015 to about 50,000 each year.
If the doctors diagnose any of these drivers with dementia, their licenses will be suspended or nullified.
Prefectural police headquarters nationwide conducted surveys among doctors’ associations in their area. As a result, about 3,100 doctors, including about 950 designated by the public safety commissions as specialists for the purpose, expressed their willingness to cooperate in conducting checks.
They told police they were willing to be referred to elderly drivers as medical institutions to conduct the tests.
The Japan Medical Association has also prepared measures to deal with the revision of the law.