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Funeral discount offered to elderly who return driver licenses

Elderly drivers' skills are checked at a driving school in Matsuyama in this file photo taken on Jan. 14, 2016. (Mainichi)

NAGOYA (Kyodo) -- With traffic accidents involving elderly drivers becoming a serious problem in Japan, initiatives are spreading to encourage seniors to voluntarily give up their licenses if they feel their driving is becoming erratic.

Heiankaku Co., a ceremony service company in Aichi Prefecture, started a 15 percent discount from March 1 at its 89 funeral homes within the central Japanese prefecture for people who hold proof, issued by police, that they have returned their licenses, as well as for their family members and close relatives.

People residing outside the prefecture can also receive the discount, according to the company, which has teamed up with a local police station to promote the initiative.

Drivers aged 75 or older accounted for 13.2 percent of fatal traffic accidents in Aichi in 2016, up from 7.7 percent in 2007, according to the prefectural police.

Some of those accidents involved elderly drivers confusing the gas and brake pedals or mistakenly putting the vehicle into reverse.

The return rate of driver's licenses for elderly drivers was 2.15 percent in 2015 in Aichi, the 32nd lowest among Japan's 47 prefectures.

Similar efforts are under way in Osaka Prefecture, western Japan, where elderly drivers who return their licenses are receiving discounts for goods and services at local shops and funeral homes.

Such measures appear to be having an effect, with Osaka having the highest return rate for licenses at 5.41 percent in 2015.

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