Drivers swap licence for noodles

A worrying rise in car accidents has prompted Japanese police to offer older drivers cheaper meals if they hand in their licence.

Launched last week in Aichi Prefecture in central Japan, the scheme offers drivers aged over 75 discounts on ramen noodles, but only if they give up their driver’s licence.

The plan comes after a significant rise in traffic accidents caused by over-75s. Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has called for action to address the increase in accidents, many of which were fatal.

The overall number of accidents in Japan has declined over the past few years, but the number involving over 75s has increased from 7.4 per cent to 12.8 per cent.

With Japan’s population rapidly ageing, that number is not to be scoffed at. An estimated 17 million Japanese aged 65 or over drive a car, 4.8 million of whom are over 75 – compared with 2.4 million just a decade ago.

Older drivers in Aichi will now get a 15 per cent discounts on ramen once they surrender their licence. Other areas in the same prefecture are offering discounts at public baths, barbers and chemists, as well as lower taxi fares.

So far this year, 12,000 drivers in the prefecture have taken advantage of such schemes. Nationwide, more than 270,000 have surrendered their licence and are now eligible for discounted public transport and taxi fees.

From next March, drivers older than 74 who are pulled over by police and show signs of cognitive impairment or memory loss, will be referred to a doctor or have their licence suspended or revoked.

Read more at The Guardian

What do you think of this scheme? Would you swap your licence for a cheap bowl of noodles, an inexpensive haircut or discounted public transport?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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