Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Over 57,000 elderly drivers in Japan have been judged as likely dementia sufferers since the revised road traffic law took effect in March last year, a National Police Agency survey revealed Thursday.
According to the preliminary results of the survey, a total of 2,105,477 aged drivers took cognitive function tests, and 57,099 of them showed dementia indications and were instructed to see a doctor.
Of the possible dementia sufferers, 16,470 underwent diagnoses. As a result, 1,892 people had their driver’s licenses revoked or suspended.
The number of elderly drivers whose licenses were at least suspended due to cognitive disorders more than tripled from 2016, the NPA said.
Under the revised law, drivers aged 75 and older have to take cognitive function tests when they renew their driver’s license or after they make certain traffic law violations. Those who are judged as possible dementia sufferers through the tests need to see a doctor, and, if diagnosed with the cognitive disease, they will eventually be disqualified from driving.
The NPA survey found that after diagnosis 1,836 people were deprived of their licenses, 56 saw theirs suspended and 1,515 were waiting for such measures to be taken. Meanwhile, the remaining 13,063 were allowed to drive. But 9,563 of them, or about 70 percent, were requested to submit medical certificates again six months later.
Drivers are allowed to retake the cognition tests, depending on their health. After doing so, 8,385 saw improvements in their results.
On the other hand, driver’s licenses were voluntarily returned by 16,115 before diagnosis and allowed to expire by 4,517.