• diveanon 6 days ago

    My grandmother in the US has severe dementia and an active drivers license.

    My grandfather doesn't let her drive, but legally there is nothing stopping her. It terrifies me when I go to visit their retirement village because any car I pass could be a similar story.

    Unfortunately there is no solution because no politician in Florida is ever going to propose legislation that limits the elderly in any way.

  • sandworm101 6 days ago

    Want to be really scared? Look at how many blind people are out there driving. Being legally blind does not automatically mean you forfeit your license. Of course, this is florida. Fully blind people (aka "black-blind") are allowed to buy, own, and use guns.

  • masterofpuppets 5 days ago

    Read up on Carey McWilliams, he uses a sound based targeting system, is blind and is a really accomplished marksman and hunter with the technology.

  • nextos 6 days ago

    That's pretty scary. In my home EU country, you need to pass a pretty decent medical test and a little videogame where you prove you can steer a car every 10 years to renew your license.

    So, for example, they will fail you if your eyesight is slightly poor and you will need to come back with a prescription and new glasses.

    But in other EU countries, I am aware it is like in Florida. Licenses for life or many years.

  • knolax 6 days ago

    > no politician in Florida is ever going to propose legislation that limits the elderly in any way

    And also because in many places in the US driving is pretty much the only way to get around. Most elderly aren't living in busy city centers with functioning public transportation systems, most of them are living in suburban communities that have no public transportation by design.

  • vinay427 6 days ago

    It's not just Florida. In Switzerland, drivers licenses generally don't expire so no renewal is necessary for decades, and the age at which medical examinations are necessary was recently raised (!) from 70 to 75.

  • rosege 5 days ago

    I was talking about this with friends the other day - and here in NSW, Australia when you first get your license you get your L (learner) plates then your P (provisional) and you have to put these letters next to your numberplate so that everyone knows you are a beginner. I think we need to bring in a X plate (havent determined the letter yet) to help raise awareness to other drivers. Generally people are more patient and give more space when they see L and P plates and I think a plate for pensioners would help too.

  • SenHeng 5 days ago

    Japan does have a voluntary ‘I’m old’ plate which does exactly the same thing. It’s fairly common.


  • scott_s 6 days ago

    You or your grandfather could make a report to the DMV, or contact her doctor, who could do the same. (Googling around, a doctor's request to the DMV has special status.)

  • dfxm12 6 days ago

    In the wake of a slew of fatal accidents involving elderly drivers, the government plans to create a new driver’s license system that limits senior citizens to cars with safety features such as automatic brakes.

    This seems like a feel good story for the papers and a way to further penalize drivers who don't have the proper car for their license, but I wonder how this works in practice to actually prevent accidents, given the parameters of what's being reported. On your 75th birthday, do they repossess your current car and make you buy a new one?

    Otherwise, there are still going to be a lot of dangerous autos on the road.

  • anextomp 6 days ago

    I could purchase a semi truck today and drive it despite the fact i'm not licensed. I don't see how it's any different - the thing stopping people from driving vehicles that they don't have the license for is that it is illegal and you can be punished.

    Repossession doesn't come into the equation - the same way I can buy a truck, they can buy/own a car that they aren't allowed to drive. It makes sense that they would sell it and buy one they are licensed to drive, but nobody's making them if they want to sit in it and make car noises while not moving.

  • Analemma_ 6 days ago

    It will probably work, thanks to some Japan-specific quirks: every two years, cars are subject to a "tax and inspection" fee that can run up to $1500, which causes a lot of people to just buy a new car instead when it comes around. Also, Japanese tax law encourages frequently buying company cars and letting employees use them as their main vehicle, in lieu of additional salary. So Japan already gets old cars off the road very quickly.

    (Note: I don't think this is a great system, and it's pretty obviously a hidden subsidy for the Japanese auto industry, but it does have the helpful side effect of ensuring that almost all cars on the road in Japan are fairly new and have the newest features)

  • SECProto 6 days ago

    > Note: I don't think this is a great system, and it's pretty obviously a hidden subsidy for the Japanese auto industry, but it does have the helpful side effect of ensuring that almost all cars on the road in Japan are fairly new and have the newest features

    I dunno, I live in a province in Canada with no auto industry. We have an inspection every two years, license plate renewals every two years, mandatory insurance at all times. The costs end up being almost identical (I've owned a car in both places). The people I know who have had issues are mostly due to emissions and lack of maintenance - failing to fix a rusted out exhaust line, alignment out, rusted out body, etc. My car in Japan was 16 years old and passed with the minimum fees.

    I do know lots of people in Japan who replaced their car just because it got a bit old, but it wasn't because it didn't pass inspection. It was because they thought it wouldn't pass.

  • Scoundreller 6 days ago

    Seems to have worked great for the Japanese auto industry: they focussed on resale value (aka: long term reliability).

  • azernik 6 days ago

    Specifically, most Japanese used cars are exported abroad, since the inspection criteria are quite stringent when it comes to condition and features. So the cars are basically broken in by Japanese drivers, and then live the rest of their lives in Indonesia or China.

  • jacquesm 6 days ago

    Or in Western Europe. I imported two top of the line cars for a very low fee in the past from Japan. Both had super low mileage and were a fraction of what I'd pay for the same vehicles here. The websites typically look super sketchy but they're legit, you may have to twiddle headlights and other details to get it to pass inspection locally.

    Important to check if there have been recalls that have not been applied to the car you are interested in and to make sure that you have a good idea of the tax and registration fees in your intended country of destination before pulling the trigger.

    Luxury European cars (MB, BMW, Audi) in Japan are typically LHD so no problem there, but beware of buying Japanese vehicles there, there is a good chance they are RHD.

  • filoleg 6 days ago

    I bet it might have something to do with the fact that there is a way way bigger car market outside of Japan, thus making the focus on long-term reliability perfectly logical in terms of maximizing sales.

  • pkaye 6 days ago

    In Japan it gets expensive to keep a car for more than about 10 years so people are used to buying a new one more frequently.

  • magduf 6 days ago

    Is there some kind of exemption for cabs and work trucks? I was just there, and I did notice that I didn't see many older cars (maybe a few "collectibles"), but many cabs were definitely over 10yo, and also some work vehicles looked pretty old too.

  • hrktb 6 days ago

    Currently neighbours can and do call the cops on elderly people that keep their license but are clearly not able to drive anymore.

    The outcome is usually the elderly voluntarily returning their license under severe social pressure, or getting their license next renewal refused (it's to be done every few years).

    As Japan's population is aging more and more, it's a pretty serious issue in the media, also repossession is not needed, just voiding the driving license at 75 if they don't prove they changed cars will do.

  • 6 days ago
  • sandworm101 6 days ago

    >> In both cases, it is believed that the drivers may have mistaken the throttle for the break pedal.

    No. That is either a translation error or an overly-polite way of putting it. They did not "mistake" one for the other. Loss of coordination in the legs is a normal symptom of old age. It is why old people shuffle, why they use walkers. They did not make the mental mistake of forgetting which pedal is which. They suffer from a physical condition, one unrelated to cognition, that limits their ability to quickly and accurately move their feet.

    Automatic brakes might help, but won't necessarily protect every kid walking through a parking lot from being trampled by someone accidental slamming on the accelerator. What might be needed is a combination of automatic brakes and throttle limiters, devices that interpret someone slamming on an accelerator as a mistaken attempt to stop.

    Similarly, rapid acceleration in reverse should be disabled. That has killed in many parking lots. So too rapid acceleration with the parking brake applied.

  • avar 6 days ago

    > [...]throttle limiters, devices that interpret someone slamming on an accelerator as a mistaken attempt to stop[...]

    If there's a perceived need to install that sort of device the driver in question simply shouldn't be driving.

    Installing this sort of thing is just a recipe for disaster, now they'll cause some horrible accident on a highway instead as they legitimately slam the accelerator on an on-ramp, which the car will then auto-translate to slamming on the brakes.

  • thebooktocome 6 days ago

    Perfectly healthy people without dementia have confused the brake and acceleration pedals. It's a design problem, not a competency problem.


    Maybe your point is that people shouldn't be driving in general?

  • avar 6 days ago

    No, the premise of this discussion is not that humans are infallible up to a certain age, but rather that at some point the elderly become more prone to causing accidents.

    I'm pointing out that what might sound like a sensible mitigation for that can backfire. The control mechanisms of cars should not be messed with lightly.

  • diminoten 6 days ago

    Are they trying to protect "every" kid? Or just bring the rate back down to an acceptable level?

    Driving is inherently dangerous, complete safety isn't possible.

  • albertgoeswoof 6 days ago

    Could we get a filter for HN that drops articles with hyperbole in the title? E.g. Surge, slew, flock etc. usually indicate bias.

    The article is based around this:

    > there were 460 fatal traffic accidents in Japan last year caused by drivers aged 75 or over. The proportion of such accidents among all fatal accidents increased from 8.7 percent in 2008 to 14.8 percent in 2018.

    But what it doesn’t say is how many fatal accidents there were overall in 2008 (what if the total number of accidents for the age group has gone down, and the number of accidents in other age groups has just gone down by more), nor does it talk about the number of accidents in any other year (what if 2008 was an anomaly). There’s no way of knowing if this % change is statistically significant.

    It also doesn’t say whether the apparent rise in this age group is caused by the age group being older, or if there are other factors at play (eg are older people more likely to drive older cars?)

    I don’t understand how anyone can form an opinion with articles like this, there’s no fact base to start from and any discussion is moot.

  • diminoten 6 days ago

    The way to do it is to assume it's correct for the duration of the article. That way you can think about it in the way the author intended, but afterwords you're not holding on to a fact or conclusion that isn't actually true.

    Basically, play by the author's rules so you can benefit from the article, but follow up with your own bit of research to ensure the author's premise was sound. If it is, keep the information. If it's not, move on with your life.

  • yason 5 days ago

    My grandad luckily fell, broke his hips, and become hospitalised until his death before he managed to drive over any innocent pedestrians or crash into other cars besides when parking.

    I'd venture to suggest retaking the standard driving test at 65, 70, and 75, and then every two years if an elder wishes to retain his license. You can only figure out if someone is fit for driving by observing how he drives. A doctor can't do it from his office, and relatives are too close. An independent, objective driving test examiner would fail or pass elder people by the same criteria he fails or passes young new drivers straight from the driving school.

    Basically, anyone on the public roads should be fit for passing a driving test at any time, the elderly people included.

  • thrower123 6 days ago

    Massachusetts lets you turn in the driver's license of people with dementia, which is good. However, if you want them to then have a non-driver's state identification, that is a whole separate process. One of my coworkers just went through a Kafka-esque process that chewed up a whole day at the DMV where he turned in his elderly mother's license, then was unable to get the other ID because this nonagenarian didn't have a copy of her birth certificate, from some rural county in the South, where the original was destroyed because the courthouse burned down decades ago, and they wouldn't accept the just-turned-in driver's license as proof of her identity.

  • RappingBoomer 6 days ago

    if the elderly cause more accidents, then why are their insurance rates lower than for young people?

  • spamizbad 6 days ago

    My guess: they account for miles driven. If the elderly are driving less frequently and for shorter distances you can probably assume no long daily commutes during rush hour, and less driving during evenings and inclement weather when accidents are likely to occur.

    Here's some data on the subject matter: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/onh00/bar8.htm

    65+ drive roughly the same amount as 16-19 year olds. Driving peaks in the 35-54 cohort and drops sharply from there. I imagine drivers who are pushing 80 are driving significantly less than their cohort overall.

  • filoleg 6 days ago

    I agree with your reasoning, but the comparison to 16-19 year olds in the last paragraph doesn't really make sense to me. If both groups are equally dangerous on the road and drive about the same amount, why are insurance rates for 16-19 year olds (talking about the US, because that's what I have the context for) are through the roof, unlike the elderly?

  • 6 days ago
  • avar 6 days ago

    For a start being at fault for an accident doesn't automatically translate into car insurance liability.

    Secondly the liability rate is only going to be loosely correlated with the insurance liability rate. If you cause 10x more accidents than the next guy, but you mainly do so by crashing into pedestrians at low speeds you're not going to damage the car a lot, whereas someone with 1/10 of that accident rate that's more likely to total the car is a larger liability in terms of auto insurance.

  • sergers 6 days ago

    In BC Canada, you dont need a medical exam for license till you are 80!

  • xxpor 6 days ago

    In the US, you never need one ever.

  • brianwawok 6 days ago

    Various states have various requirements. For example mine requires an eye test.

  • xxpor 6 days ago

    I think every state requires an eye test, but that's at every age.