Funeral Discount if you Stop Driving in Japan

Not dead yet! Often the authorities in Japan will come up with some strange ways to crack a nut. Now, though, they are offering funera...

Not dead yet!

Often the authorities in Japan will come up with some strange ways to crack a nut. Now, though, they are offering funeral discounts to senior citizens that surrender their drivers licenses, in an effort to reduce the death toll on Japanese roads. This rather macabre incentive is not because Japanese seniors are dying behind the wheel, but more to do with a spate of serious accidents caused by geriatric drivers as they lose control of their vehicles.

The nation was shocked last year after an 87-year-old mowed down a line of kids on their way to school, after he lost control of his car. The pensioner later claimed that he “had no idea where he had been”. With a rapidly aging population in Japan, there is an ever increasing number of aged drivers, most of whom are probably more than capable; however, 13% of all accidents in the country are caused by drivers who are over 75 years of age, and is rising rapidly.

Elderly drivers are wreaking havoc on the roads of Japan. A vehicle driven by an 87-year-man ploughed into a row of school kids in Yokohama.

Hence, the Hwinkaku Funeral Company, which has 89 funeral homes in Aichi prefecture, south of Tokyo where you will also find Nagoya, will offer a 15% discount to any senior who can prove that they have surrendered their license to the Police. This is actually quite a big deal, with an average funeral in Japan costing about USD21,000, any cost-minded individual may well consider it worthwhile.

This isn’t the first time Japanese authorities have tried to encourage Japanese seniors to surrender their licenses. In 2016, the Police offered a 15% discount on ramens in all 179 branches of a restaurant chain known as Sugakiya. Other prefectures have also been using less morbid perks, like cheaper taxi rides or discounts at the public baths. So far, less than 2% of senior citizens have found these incentives attractive and, according to reports, a mere 12,000 bowls of ramen have been claimed so far this year.

Would you swap your license for this?

Japan traditionally has an amazing reputation for how the old folks are treated, but the aging population is expected to see almost 40% of its citizens above the age of 65 in the next few decades, and there is a desire to ensure road safety. At present, many seniors voluntarily go back to driving school to test themselves, but there are calls to make this mandatory. Any driver over the age of 74 that is stopped by the Police and shows any sign of cognitive impairment (aka senility) will be sent for medical exam. If they are found to be suffering from any form of dementia—something that currently affects 2.4 million Japanese—then their license will be revoked.

 Driving school for the elderly.

Not everyone is in favour of the measures, with major concern for those elderly folks living in rural locations and without access to public transport, who could find themselves isolated if they are no longer able to drive. Hiroshi Takahashi, who advises the Government on the care of the elderly, is concerned that losing the right to drive may also hasten physical decline and contribute to dementia. Certainly, for most elderly people, the ability to be self-sufficient and independent is not up for debate, whereas the need to rely on others for the basics such as transportation marks the beginning of the end.

Still, every cloud has a silver lining, as they say and the tech-savvy seniors are being targeted by our old friends over at Uber with special discounts as well.

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