Certification system eyed to prevent accidents by elderly drivers

The Yomiuri Shimbun

First-year elementary school children are taught about traffic safety for their commute to and from school in Yokohama on Monday.

The Yomiuri ShimbunAiming to prevent accidents by elderly drivers, the government plans to create a certification system for automobile devices that hinder sudden starts and acceleration when drivers mistake the accelerator for the brake.

Establishing the system is a pillar of the emergency traffic safety measures that were decided Tuesday at a meeting of related Cabinet ministers. They also include launching the tentatively named “kids guard project,” in which former police officers and other adults will monitor children outside.

The emergency measures focus on supporting safe driving by the elderly, an expansion of plans to secure means of transportation for them, and ensuring the safety of children.

Acceleration control devices detect obstacles with a sensor, and have already been put into practical use. However, their performance differs among manufacturers, so the government plans to set up the certification system, hoping to promote the spread of high-performance equipment. The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will work on the details by the end of this year.

The emergency measures include a plan for the government to consider introducing a new type of driver’s license aimed at elderly people that is limited to drivers of “safety support cars” equipped with driving assistance functions. Whether to introduce the new license system will be decided by the end of this fiscal year.

Also in the measures is a policy calling for the mandatory installation in new vehicles of automatic brakes that take effect when passersby or obstacles are detected.

Regarding support for transportation for elderly people, the government aims to avoid disrupting their lives even if they are not allowed to drive on their own, such as by introducing share-ride taxis nationwide and starting a debate on putting self-driving buses into practical use.

To ensure the safety of children, the government will strengthen safety measures on roads where children at kindergartens and nursery schools go out in groups.

The kids guard project is designed to entrust former police officers and residents in the community to mainly watch out for children taking a walk in groups outside facilities. The government plans to test the project in some areas by the end of this fiscal year, and consider systematizing the project.

The government also plans to consider establishing a tentatively named kids’ zone to restrict traffic during hours when preschool children move in groups and also set up more safety bumps on the roads.

The government will conduct emergency safety checks around kindergartens and nursery schools to select areas to introduce these measures, and compile drafts of safety measures for each area by October.Speech

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